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Soaking It All In

Monday, September 28, 2009 – Fenway Park, Section 41

Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 5, 6½ innings

The Red Sox were back from a road trip that included sweeping Baltimore, splitting a four-game set in Kansas City, and being swept in New York.  While the Yankees had wrapped up the division over the weekend, the Red Sox’ magic number for clinching the Wild Card was down to 2, meaning they could clinch Monday night if they won and Texas lost.  The problem was that the Rangers were playing in Anaheim, so their game wouldn’t even begin until 10:00, as our game was wrapping up.  And there was no way the Red Sox would let us stay in the park and watch it, they way they did with the final few innings of the Yankees game on the night we clinched the division in 2007.  At work, I joked that our game needed to go 18 innings, or maybe only 15 if there was a rain delay, so I could be there when they clinched.

Johnny Pesky threw out the first pitch the day after his 90th birthday.

Johnny Pesky threw out the first pitch the day after his 90th birthday.

Before I left work to head in to the game, I checked online to get the lineups.  That’s when I saw that Josh Beckett had been scratched from his start with back spasms, and that Michael Bowden would be starting instead.  Bowden was a promising young starter whom we had seen in Spring Training, but he had pitched a couple of innings in relief over the weekend, so he wasn’t going to be able to go deep into the game tonight.

It wasn’t very deep into the game at all when the second batter homered.  The next four Blue Jays also had hits, and by the end of the inning, they had a 4-0 lead.  Kevin Youkilis hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the inning to get the Sox a little closer, and Bowden settled down for a scoreless second.  That was as close as the Red Sox would get, though.  In the third, Bowden gave up a 3-run homer.  In the fourth, he was replaced by Hunter Jones, who gave up 3 more runs, including another home run.

In the fifth, I was puzzled when I saw a #54 warming up in the bullpen.  I’d like to think I know who everyone is, but I was drawing a blank on this one.  No one had been #54 since outfielder Chris Carter at the beginning of the year.  I called my parents, who told me it was Dustin Richardson, who had just been added to the roster that afternoon.  I remembered seeing him at the Spring Training workouts (although I had never seen him in a game) and I had read that he had a good season in Double and Triple A.  The tall, lanky lefty entered the game with 2 on and 2 out in the fifth, making his Major League debut.  His first pitch was hit into center field where it was caught by Jacoby Ellsbury to end the inning.  He added a scoreless sixth, although he did give up 2 singles.

Dustin Richardson warms up in the pen before making his Major League debut.

Dustin Richardson warms up in the 'pen before making his Major League debut.

Youk hit his second homer of the day in the third, and Big Papi went deep in the fifth, but the score was a disappointing 11-4 at the end of the sixth.  I knew I was coming back in two days for Wednesday’s game, and started thinking maybe I could still see them clinch, if they won on Tuesday and Texas won both of their games.

It was a relatively warm night, with the gametime temperature announced at 68°.  I was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the seventh when I finally put on the coat I had brought.  Blue Jays’ starter Scott Richmond had finally come out of the game, and Alex Gonzalez walked to start the inning.  As Ellsbury batted, we felt a couple of raindrops – spaced out enough that there was time to say, “Was that a raindrop?” – and that’s when I put the jacket on. Ellsbury walked, and as it started to rain, Dustin Pedroia drove in a run with a double.  I was 35 rows back, almost as far back as the red seat, and my friends were a couple of rows behind me.  As soon as it started raining, I decided to head down to sit in drier seats.  If I had to watch a game as miserable as this one, I shouldn’t have to get wet too.  But even though I was close to the aisle, I was so far back that there was nowhere to go.  The rain was torrential.  I opened my bag quickly to stuff my camera and scorecard inside.  I tried to turn away from the rain, but the swirling wind was blowing it sideways.  It probably only took 5 or 10 minutes to get down from my seat – the grounds crew was still pulling the tarp onto the field – but in that time I was completely soaked.  Of all the rainy games I’ve been to at Fenway, I don’t think I’ve ever been that wet!  I started to wring out my jacket.  I headed straight to the ladies’ room, where I used paper towels to dry off my cell phone, which was wet despite being in my pocket; the camera; and even the bottom of the bag, which had gotten wet in the minute I had had it open.

Another rain delay at Fenway drowned any chance of clinching the Wild Card.

Another rain delay at Fenway drowned any chance of clinching the Wild Card.

I met up with my friends, and we went to sit in the grandstand behind home plate to wait out the rain delay.  It didn’t seem likely that they’d continue a game that was that lopsided, although I held out hope that they’d resume, overcome the 6-run deficit now that they were facing the bullpen, and wrap up an epic win just as Texas was losing.  Either way, they have to wait at least half an hour before making the decision to call a game.  At 10:00, they started showing the Texas/Anaheim game on the Jumbo-Tron, and the Angels took a quick 3-0 lead.  But this wasn’t what I had in mind when I said I hoped they’d let us stay and watch it!

After an hour of sitting in wet clothes, they finally called the game.  The clinching would have to wait.  Now I was hoping that the Rangers would actually win tonight.  I wasn’t coming back until Wednesday, and if Texas didn’t lose, that meant the Sox could win their Tuesday game and still clinch for me on Wednesday.  When I got home and dried off, I pulled their game up on the internet and stayed up past 1 am to watch. The Rangers ended up losing 11-0, reducing the Red Sox’ magic number to one.  Just my luck – they’d probably end up clinching on Tuesday, and I’d miss it!  (As long as they ultimately get in, I’ll be happy, but I really wanted to see it in person.)

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