Embree, Foulke dominate ex-teammates
Relievers turn in 2 1/3 innings of shutout work in opener
TOKYO -- Although the A's are wearing white, taking batting practice first and batting in the bottom half of every inning, they aren't getting much of a "home" feel at Opening Series Japan 2008.
Oakland is technically the home team here at Tokyo Dome, but the Red Sox have taken over the home clubhouse, their fans have taken over the stands and their music blares from the speakers: "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond in the bottom of the eighth and "Shipping Up To Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys when Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon comes on.
Among the very few things that didn't make the Red Sox and their fans feel right at home during Boston's 6-5, 10-inning victory was the presence of Alan Embree and Keith Foulke, decked out in green and gold.
Members of the 2004 Red Sox team that won the World Series to break the "Curse of the Bambino," Embree and Foulke did everything they could to spoil the fun for Red Sox Nation. Now members of Oakland's bullpen, the veterans combined on 2 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout work.
"They were awesome," said A's starter Joe Blanton. "They got in, got out and got the job done."
Foulke, who was Oakland's closer in 2003 before serving the same role in Boston for the next three, came out of a one-year retirement to sign with the A's. He looked rusty for much of the spring, posting a 15.75 ERA in four Cactus League outings. He looked anything but rusty Tuesday, ripping through a perfect eighth inning and handing a one-run lead to closer Huston Street.
"Experience is one of those things you can't overlook," Foulke said.
Nor could Foulke, 35, overlook the strangeness that came with seeing his former teammates while walking the halls of the team hotel this week.
"Once you're on the mound it's not strange, but in the hotel, yeah," he admitted. "It's nice to see the guys you played with, but you do have to kind of check yourself."
Embree recorded the final out for Boston to close out that epic comeback against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Foulke recorded the final out in the World Series.
"It was a little weird for me last year, facing them for the first time," Embree admitted. "But not after that. Between the lines, it's still baseball, friends or not."
Embree, 38 and the oldest player on Oakland's roster, insisted he wasn't worried a whit about his own spring struggles. Much of his 10.50 ERA in Cactus League play was the result of "working on things" as opposed to focusing on results.
"When you're young, you have to make the team," he said. "When you're old, you have to show you're healthy."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.