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Feel the Burn

Sunday, July 5, 2009 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Red Sox 8, Mariners 4

After the “Father’s Day Miracle”, the Red Sox embarked on a road trip to Washington, Atlanta, and Baltimore.  The journey was a successful one, as they took two of three in each city.  When they returned home, they dropped the first two to the Mariners, and I went on Sunday as they tried to salvage a game and avoid a sweep.  Since the weather was warm and sunny for the first time in what felt like an eternity, I made sure to go early and watch batting practice from the Green Monster.  With the area colleges out for the summer and my early arrival, I was able to get a parking space at a meter (free on Sundays) on Comm. Ave. right down the street from Kenmore Square.

Warning: For your sanity, please do not ask for baseballs if you don't plan on catching them

Warning: For your sanity, please do not ask for baseballs if you don't plan on catching them.

During batting practice, I sat in the same section of the Green Monster as I had when Brad Penny tossed me up a baseball, but this time I didn’t ask for any.  Daniel Bard did toss one up to some kids near me, though.

Daniel Bard shagged flies in batting practice.

Daniel Bard shagged flies in batting practice.

My seat was a good one, in row 4 in straightaway center (or “dead central” as Dennis Eckersley would say).  While it was a pleasant 77 degrees in the shade at gametime, the bleachers were much warmer, and the plastic seats were burning from baking in the sun all morning.  But after so many cold, rainy games where I had to wear a coat in June, there was no way I was going to complain about that!  It was a joy to finally pack my bag with a bottle of cold water and some sunscreen instead of a sweatshirt and rain gear.  (It was ironic that we had to invite Seattle to town to get some nice, dry weather.)  Some of the people around me couldn’t handle the sun, and they left in search of shade.  That just meant that once I was sure they weren’t coming back, I could call my friends who were in the back row of the section and have them move down next to me.

The game got off on a good note when Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz homered in the bottom of the first.  At the end of the inning, an announcement came over the loudspeakers that six Red Sox had been selected to the All-Star Game.  (I tried to quickly count in my head: how many did we know were going, and did that mean Tim Wakefield had made it?)  Jason Bay and Pedroia had been voted in as starters.  (OK, I knew about that. )  Kevin Youkilis was chosen as a backup.  (Apparently Mark Teixeira had edged him out in voting at the last minute.)  Then they announced the pitchers, Josh Beckett (uh oh, they wouldn’t pick two of our starters, would they?) and Jonathan Papelbon.  Then the announcement came: “And making his first All-Star appearance….”  We didn’t even need to hear the rest.  As soon as we heard the word “first”, everyone jumped up to give Wakefield a standing ovation.  It was one of those cool Fenway moments, and they showed him on the scoreboard, grinning ear-to-ear and waving.  After all he’s done for us in the past fifteen years – starting, relieving, closing, pitching on short rest, volunteering for mop-up duty to save the bullpen – he’s always done what’s best for the team, and it was great to finally see him rewarded for his own accomplishments.

The game got scary in the fourth, when the Mariners loaded the bases with two outs.  Jon Lester got a 1-2 count on the number 9 hitter, Ronny Cedeno, and looked like he’d get out of the inning.  But Cedeno ripped a triple down the right field line, clearing the bases and giving Seattle a 3-2 lead.  They tacked on another run on a bases-loaded sac fly in the fifth.

Pedroia hovers in mid-air after his double, as Big Papi bats in the fifth.

Pedroia hovers in mid-air after hitting a double, as Big Papi bats in the fifth.

Jacoby Ellsbury got the Sox a little closer in the sixth, when his solo homer made it 4-3 Mariners.  It was frustrating that the Red Sox had hit 3 homers but they were all solo shots.  I didn’t want to lose this game and get swept.

In the seventh inning, the Red Sox finally got a look at the Seattle bullpen, and it took three relievers to get through the ininng.  With two runners on, Papi got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and lined a single into right to drive in the tying run.  Later in the inning, Ellsbury’s bases-loaded walk gave them the lead, and Mark Kotsay’s two-run single padded it.  Finally, Ellsbury came home on a wild pitch with the Sox’ fifth run of the inning and eighth of the game.

Sayonara, Ichiro! Okajima got him to ground out in the ninth.

Sayonara, Ichiro! Okajima got his countryman to ground out in the ninth.

That left it up to the Red Sox bullpen to close it out, and they were up to the task.  Justin Masterson, who had come in to get the final out of the seventh and was now in line for the win, and Hideki Okajima, who handled the ninth, retired every batter they faced to preserve the win.  Despite the sunscreen, I wound up with a sunburn, but it was worth it to have a nice, warm game, and most importantly a win.

July 5, 2009 • Posted in: 2009 Games • Share on Facebook

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