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Down on the Farm

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 – McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket

Redwings 7, PawSox 6, 10 inn.

The Red Sox were off on a road trip to Texas and Toronto, so I made my annual trip to Pawtucket, RI, to get a glimpse of the Triple A team. By waiting until August to go, most of the team had appeared for the big league club already this season. Rocco Baldelli and George Kottaras were making rehab starts. Center fielder Josh Reddick had just been sent back down. Left fielder Chris Carter, first baseman Aaron Bates, and shortstop Gil Velazquez had all been up earlier in the year. I remembered right fielder Bubba Bell, third baseman Angel Chavez, and pitcher Kris Johnson from Spring Training. In fact, the only player I wasn’t familiar with was second baseman Travis Denker.

Aaron Bates, who had spent a week in Boston before the All-Star vreak, hands off his helmet and gloves after running the bases in the fifth. His fourth-inning home run gave the PawSox their first run of the game.

Aaron Bates, who had spent a week in Boston before the All-Star break, hands off his helmet and gloves after running the bases in the fifth. His fourth-inning homer gave the PawSox their first run of the game.

Johnson came into the game with a 3-13 record, and he didn’t get off to a good start. Three straight hits gave the Redwings a 1-0 lead before the first out of the game. Three more hits drove in another run in the third and knocked Johnson from the game. He was followed by Jose Vaquedano, who gave up two homers over the next three innings.

George Kottaras had a good night as he rehabbed from a back injury. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.

George Kottaras had a good night as he rehabbed from a back injury. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.

Despite the bad start, the PawSox didn’t give up offensively. Aaron Bates’ solo home run in the fourth got them on the board, and later in the inning they plated two more. They scraped out another run in the seventh to pull to within 2 runs, at 6-4.

All the while I was listening to my Walkman to keep track of the Red Sox game. It started off well, with a 7-3 lead and Josh Beckett on the mound, but just as the PawSox drew closer in their game, the Red Sox let theirs slip away as the Blue Jays tied the game at 7. What was confusing was trying to keep score while watching one game and listening to another. I know I must have looked strange clapping when the Red Sox scored the go-ahead run in the eighth while a PawSox batter was taking a meaningless ball three. The woman next to me noticed my asynchronous cheering and asked how the other game was going, and I kept her up-to-date for the rest of the game.

The PawSox take on the Rochester Redwings, and affiliate of the Mineesota Twins, at McCoy Stadium.

The PawSox take on the Rochester Redwings, an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, at McCoy Stadium.

As I stressed through a scary Papelbon outing on the radio, the game I was actually watching in person finally got good in the eighth. Rocco Baldelli had come out of the game after three plate appearances (groundout, strikeout, flyout) with Chris Duncan replacing him as DH. In the eighth, Duncan’s two-run double tied the game, giving the PawSox new life. They went in order in the ninth, and the game went to extra innings.

Old friend Javier Lopez got the final two outs of the tenth.

Old friend Javier Lopez got the final two outs of the tenth.

Enrique Gonzalez, who had had a rocky outing in his one-game callup to the majors the week before, had entered the game in relief of Vaquedano in the sixth. He was still pitching in the top of the tenth, when a bases-loaded sacrifice fly allowed the Redwings to score the go-ahead run. But that didn’t bother me, because the Red Sox game had just gone final, with Papelbon holding on to protect a 10-9 win. I told the woman next to me, and she announced it to the rest of the section, to much applause. I was finally able to take off my headphones, and I joked, “Now I can relax and enjoy this game.” Of course, by then it was already the tenth inning, and the visitors had just taken the lead.

That gave the PawSox just one more chance in the bottom of the tenth. Angel Chavez walked with one out. Jeff Bailey pinch-hit for Velazquez, but he struck out for the second out. It was up to Josh Reddick, but he popped out to short to end the game. But it didn’t bother me, because the Red Sox picked up a game in the wild card race, and I had pleasant weather to watch a game with familiar faces and plenty of action.

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