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Keep the Line Moving (And Moving)

Thursday, May 7, 2009 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 13, Indians 3

It was cool to have tickets for two games in a row at Fenway. It always makes me feel like a season ticket holder. (I do have a 10-game plan, and that’s where my seats were tonight, but those are spread out over the whole season.) Going to consecutive games has the feel that no matter what ups and downs happen, I’m going to be there for them all. I was certainly happy to be able to quickly forget about the previous night’s loss.

As I walked around the concourse inside Gate A, I noticed the old booths that had been ticket windows in the ballpark’s early days had been made into display cases housing memorabilia from the Red Sox’ trips to the World Series. The 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 2004, and 2007 seasons are each commemorated. I think that’s a great way to showcase the team’s history.

An old Fenway Park ticket booth serves as a display case for memorabilia from the 1975 World Series.

An old Fenway Park ticket booth serves as a display case for memorabilia from the 1975 World Series.

Tim Wakefield was starting tonight, and he was currently the most consistent starter on the Red Sox’ staff. He had come close to pitching a no-hitter in April, and had dominated in several other games. As usual, a lack of run support was the only thing keeping him from a more impressive-looking record. Based on tonight’s lineup, it looked like more of the same would be in store. Jacoby Ellsbury was missing his second straight game with hamstring tightness. Kevin Youkilis was out with a sore oblique. David Ortiz was a late scratch with a stiff neck. And with Wake pitching, Jason Varitek had the night off. That left a lineup that had me feeling like I was back in Fort Myers: Julio Lugo at DH, Dustin Pedroia at 2B, Jason Bay in LF, Mike Lowell at 3B, Rocco Baldelli in CF, J.D. Drew in RF, Jeff Bailey at 1B, Nick Green at SS, and George Kottaras catching. “It’s a Spring Training lineup,” I told my friend, and then quickly added, “but who knows, they’ll probably end up scoring 10 runs tonight.”

Mr. Dependable, Tim Wakefield, before the game.

Mr. Dependable, Tim Wakefield, before the game.

It started raining in the second inning, but I was OK because I had my jacket, plus another jacket that I draped over my lap and my scorecard book, although I had to put my camera away.

In the first inning, Bailey made a leaping catch of a line drive, and the only baserunner Wakefield allowed was a two-out walk. In our half of the inning, my “Spring Training lineup” went to work. Lugo, leading off and DH’ing, ripped a triple into right. (That’s when I remembered he was hitting over .400 in Spring Training. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.) Pedroia singled him home and the Sox took the early lead. Wake went on cruise control. He had a 1-2-3 second with two strikeouts. He issued a walk in the third, but erased the runner on a double play. In the fourth, the Indians got their first hit of the night, and it was followed by a walk and a hit batsman, but Wake got out of it.

As the rain continued to fall, my friend and I talked about how the game would be official after five innings. But in the top of the fifth, Cleveland got two runs, thanks to a passed ball and a sac fly. Now that we were behind, we didn’t want it to get rained out.

Wakefield always pitches quickly, but I was shocked when I looked at the scoreboard clock in the middle of the fifth and saw that it was 8:14. Here we were, with the game almost long enough to be official, and it had only taken an hour and four minutes. It better not get called! There’d have to be more than that. It takes me longer than an hour just to drive in to Boston and take the T to the park! Sometimes when I make statements like that, they need to be filed under “Be careful what you wish for.” But this time it was, “Ask and ye shall receive.”

Wakefield had an easier time in the sixth, thanks to Baldelli’s diving catch. Then Lugo, who had already tripled in his first at-bat, singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Pedroia followed with a walk. Bay bashed a double, plating the tying run. Lowell was intentionally walked to load the bases with no one out. Baldelli quickly made them pay with a 2-run single that gave the Sox the lead. Drew walked, loading the bases again, still with nobody out. That was the end of the night for Cleveland starter Jeremy Sowers, and the beginning of a nightmare for reliever Masa Kobayashi. He faced five batters, and they all scored. First it was Jeff Bailey’s double, which drove in two more runs. Then Nick Green reached on an infield single, loading the bases again – still with no outs – and George Kottaras singled home two more runs. Lugo came up for his second at-bat of the inning and beat the throw to first for an infield single. The bases were loaded, yet again, and still there was nobody out! Pedroia’s single drove in the eighth and ninth runs of the inning and drove Kobayashi from the game. Matt Herges came in to face Jason Bay, and he promptly launched a 3-run homer. That made it a 12-run inning, and the Indians hadn’t recorded an out yet!

The Sox put a really crooked number on the board with no outs in the sixth.

The Sox put a really crooked number on the board with no outs in the sixth.

(The scoreboard on the Green Monster usually marks runs scored with yellow numbers while the inning is still in progress. When Pedroia’s single drove in the ninth run of the inning, they posted a yellow 9 in the 6th inning column. But they must not have any yellow numbers higher than 9, because they had to use a white 12 even though the inning was still going.)

Mike Lowell finally grounded out for the first out of the inning, but we gave them a big standing ovation at that point for the 12 runs. I later heard that scoring 12 runs in before the first out of an inning set a new American League record and tied the Major League record set by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953. Baldelli struck out and Drew grounded out, and the inning finally ended. I looked at the clock again. In the middle of the fifth, we had been an hour into the game, but now at the end of the sixth, it was 9:12, two hours deep.

The Sox timed their offense well. The big inning got Wakefield off the hook and in line for the win. Manny Delcarmen pitched a scoreless seventh. Javier Lopez gave up a harmless run in the eighth, and Takashi Saito threw a scoreless ninth. By the time the game ended, I had already forgotten all about the pathetic game the night before.

May 7, 2009 • Posted in: 2009 Games • Share on Facebook

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