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Let’s Play Two

Saturday, August 22, 2009 – Hadlock Field, Portland

Game 1 – Senators 5, Sea Dogs 4

Over the weekend, the Yankees came to town for a big series. I had a ticket for Sunday night, but before that, I had my yearly chance to see the Double A Sea Dogs. My plan was to sleep in Saturday morning (that was key, as I had had an exhausting week at work), drive up to Portland in time for the 6:00 game, stay over at my parents’ house, and then drive straight to Boston on Sunday afternoon in time for that game. But at 10:30 Saturday morning, my father called to say there was a change of plans. Because Friday night’s Sea Dogs game had been rained out, our Saturday game was now a single-admission double-header, with the start time moved up to 4:00. Some strong thunderstorms had come through Maine on Friday, and there was more rain in the forecast for Saturday, especially in the evening. Moving the start time up a few hours sounded more promising that they’d at least be able to get one game in, but it also meant I’d have to get going earlier than I’d anticipated.

Lars Anderson bats in the first.

Lars Anderson bats in the first.

I made it to the ballpark in plenty of time. It was a strange drive, alternating between having the sun in my eyes and needing the wipers on high during heavy downpours, often at the same time. It was hot and muggy when I arrived, but once we got out to the seats there was a breeze, and it was a lot less humid during the game. Several of the players were familiar to me from Spring Training. First baseman Lars Anderson had been in big league camp, and I had even gotten his autograph. He’s one of the higher-ranked prospects in the organization, and while he has struggled at the plate this season, he’s only 21, so there’s still time for him to develop. I had seen third baseman Iggy Suarez and shortstop Yamaico Navarro as late replacements in Spring Training games. And a couple of the others, like center fielder Ryan Kalish, second baseman Ryan Khoury, and right fielder Jason Place, had served as baserunners in a couple of drills in Ft. Myers.

The starter was Jarod Plummer, with whom I wasn’t familiar at all. It started off well, when DH Jon Still drilled a two-run double in the bottom of the first. The Harrisburg Senators, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals, tied it up in the third. After Plummer walked the first batter of the fourth, he was removed from the game, apparently from an injury. He was replaced by Chris Province.

The Red Sox game at Fenway against the Yankees started at the same time as the Sea Dogs game. I brought a Walkman so I could listen to that game on the radio while watching (and scoring) the other. I was happy to report to my family – and everyone else in the section who was interested – that the Sox got off to a 3-0 lead against A.J. Burnett in the first.

Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish walk off the field at the end of an inning.

Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish walk off the field at the end of an inning.

The Senators led off the fifth with a triple, and the Sea Dogs made a couple of good plays – a comebacker to the mound and a grounder to first – to keep the runner from scoring. Unfortunately a 2-out single plated the go-ahead run. But the Sea Dogs took the lead back in the bottom of the fifth on left fielder Daniel Nava’s two-run homer.

Minor league double-headers consist of two 7-inning games, so when the Senators tied it in the sixth and took the lead in the seventh, it didn’t give the Sea Dogs much time to answer. Lars Anderson walked in the bottom of the seventh, but they weren’t able to get the run across, and the Sea Dogs dropped the first game. The important thing, though, was that the Red Sox were enjoying a 12-0 lead over the Yankees, much to our delight.

Hadlock field panorama.

Hadlock Field panorama.

Game 2 – Senators 3, Sea Dogs 1

The first game finished up at 6:45, and the second game started a half-hour later. Amazingly, the rain held off throughout the afternoon. We even saw some sun. In the first inning, the Red Sox game went final with a 14-1 trouncing of the Yankees. From that point on, I could take off the headphones and enjoy the game at hand.

Ryne Lawson started the second game, and he surrendered a two-run homer in the second inning. The Sea Dogs weren’t able to do much at the plate in the entire nightcap. They only had four hits all night, but luckily two of them were Ryan Khoury’s double and Jason Place’s single in the third, which scored a run and got the Sea Dogs to within a run.

There was some good defense on display, which prevented the Senators from scoring more runs than they did. After Harrisburg put the first batter on in the fifth on an infield hit and sacrificed him over, Lawson got a strikeout for the second out. The next batter singled in the third run of the game, but he was thrown out trying to advance to second. In the next inning, there was a play at the plate on a single to left that cut down another runner trying to score.

In the evening, fog rolled in, but the rain held off all day. We found it amusing that even though both games were only 7 innings, they still did a seventh inning stretch. If the Sea Dogs had been leading either game, it would have been over by the middle of the seventh, and they wouldn’t have been able to do a stretch. It seemed a little weird to be singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when there’s only a half-inning left before going home from the ballgame! The Sea Dogs went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, losing again, but it was still a fun day.

Matt Sheely hits a popup into the fog in the sixth inning.

Matt Sheely hits a popup into the fog in the sixth inning.

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