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A Night at the Penny Arcade

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 – Fenway Park, Section 35

A’s 8, Red Sox 6

On Monday, the Oakland A’s came to town. The Red Sox won the first game, but dropped the second despite an emotional ceremony before the game retiring Jim Rice’s number 14 on the heels of his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. When I arrived on Wednesday, I made sure to get a picture of the 14 in its rightful place among the Red Sox greats.

Jim Rice's number 14 now hangs with 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 27, and 42.

Jim Rice's number 14 now hangs with 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 27, and 42.

There are supposedly three guidelines for the Red Sox’ retired numbers: The player must have played at least 10 years with the Red Sox; he must be in the Hall of Fame (Johnny Pesky’s #6 is the exception, but he was an All-Star as a player and has been with the team for over 60 years as a player, coach, manager, broadcaster, and special instructor); and he must finish his career with the Sox (Carlton Fisk’s #27 is the exception to this rule, although he was back in their employ as a special instructor when the number was retired). At Wednesday’s game, I overheard the people behind me pondering why the numbers hang in numerical order rather than in the order in which they were retired. In fact, the numbers were once hanging in the order of their retirement: Ted Williams’ #9, Joe Cronin’s #4, Bobby Doerr’s #1, and Carl Yastrzemski’s #8. But in Dan Shaughnessy’s book “Curse of the Bambino,” he pointed out that, if read as a date, 9/4/18 was the day before the start of the 1918 World Series. In the 1990’s the numbers were re-arranged into numerical order to avoid this reference, and now the higher numbers have to keep moving down to make room for lower numbers.

Unfortunately, admiring the retired numbers turned out to be the best part of the game. Brad Penny got off to the worst possible start, giving up a home run on his very first pitch. Two singles and a walk later, the bases were loaded with no outs. A fielder’s choice drove in one run, and after a walk re-loaded the bases, Rajai Davis ripped a double that scored all three runners and put the A’s up 5-0. It was the top of the first, and a lot of people were still heading out to their seats. The usher in my section was trying to get everyone to the right seats as quickly as possible. He had just seated some people a couple of rows behind me, and as he walked back down to the bottom of the aisle, he asked, “Anyone else need help? Who needs help?” So of course I answered, “Brad Penny.”

Brad Penny struggled all night, getting charged with 7 runs in only 5+ innings of work.

Brad Penny struggled all night, getting charged with 7 runs in only 5+ innings of work.

All hope wasn’t lost, however, because Mike Lowell launched a 3-run homer over the Green Monster in the bottom of the first, which kept the Red Sox close, at 5-3. The problem was that before they could get any closer, Penny gave up another homer in the fifth. When the first batter of the sixth doubled, Penny was finally done for the night, but by then it was too late, as that runner and one of his teammates crossed the plate later in the inning for an 8-3 lead.

It was a rare rain-free night at Fenway, but it still ended in disappointment.

It was a rare rain-free night at Fenway, but it still ended in disappointment.

Once A’s starter Brett Anderson came out of the game, the Red Sox were able to push a few more runs across. Jacoby Ellsbury tripled in the seventh and scored on a groundout. Jason Bay tripled in the eighth and scored on a sac fly. And three hits in the ninth, including Lowell’s fourth RBI of the night, gave them their sixth run. But ultimately they ran out of time, and the game ended as another loss.

July 29, 2009 • Posted in: 2009 Games • Share on Facebook

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