For the Birds
Sunday, June 7, 2009 – Fenway Park, Section 43
Rangers 6, Red Sox 3
The Red Sox returned from a long but successful 6-4 road trip tied with the Yankees for first place. They split the first two games of the series against the Rangers, including a gem in which Jon Lester took a perfect game into the seventh. Unfortunately Sunday’s game featured no such suspense. I wasn’t early enough for batting practice or the half-price food, because I had been at work until 3 am the night before. There was just enough time to visit the restroom, get my food and drink, and make the climb up to my upper bleacher seats before the starting lineups were read.
The weather was gorgeous and sunny, and although it was hot, there was a nice breeze in the back of the bleachers. But it didn’t take long for things to get uncomfortable. Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up a long home run to Michael Young in the first. The Rangers got another run on three singles in the second, and two more on a single and two doubles in the third. At the plate, it was just as frustrating for the Red Sox. Kevin Youkilis got picked off second base to end the first, and Jason Bay was caught stealing to end the second. While Big Papi batted in the second inning, one of the hawks that’s known to live at Fenway swooped into shallow right field. It dove right in front of the right fielder, where a bloop hit might land, and the little bird it had its eye on escaped. The hawk then circled around the field, soaring past the right field roof deck, over the bleachers, past the Green Monster and off over the left field Pavilion seats. Everyone in my area cheered as it flew past. Someone behind me groaned, “The hawk had better not be the highlight of this game!”
Jacoby Ellsbury got the Sox on the board with a two-run double in the third, but even that inning couldn’t escape frustration. As Youkilis batted with one out and two on, he was hit in the forearm by a Vicente Padilla pitch. He headed toward first, but the ump stopped him and made him come back, saying that he hadn’t attempted to get out of the way of the pitch. He and Tito argued briefly, but the argument was unsuccessful, and it was ruled to be just ball three. Youk did end up walking, but all three runners were stranded at the end of the inning.
The one bright spot of the game came at the end of the third, when Ellsbury made a fantastic catch to end the inning. The ball was hit into the deepest part of the triangle in center. He sprinted out with his back to the plate, dove at the last minute, made the catch, and slid across the warning track and up against the base of the wall. But even that had a downside, as he was replaced a couple of innings later with a strained shoulder.
The game continued on in similar fashion. Dice-K gave up a run on a wild pitch despite having two outs and two strikes, just after the Red Sox had pulled to within a run on Mark Kotsay’s home run. Big Papi tried to steal a base in the sixth and was thrown out by a mile. And even my tan came out funny; I have a white rectangle across my lap where I held my scorecard the whole game. Sadly, the hawk sighting was the highlight of the game. And even more sadly, it wasn’t the first time I felt that way… there was a game I went to in 2002 that was butchered by Darren Oliver, when two ducks circling the field provided the evening’s entertainment.