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No Laughing Matter

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 0

When the Red Sox clinched the Wild Card after a Texas loss well past midnight, one of the first things I thought was, “Now who am I going to see in tomorrow’s game?”  I knew that with only five games left in the season, they’d start resting the regulars, so I figured I might see 3 or 4 of the bench guys when I went to my third straight game.  But when I saw the lineup online just before I left work, it was worse than I thought: Joey Gathright in center, Josh Reddick in left, Casey Kotchman at first, David Ortiz DH-ing, Rocco Baldelli in right, George Kottaras catching, Alex Gonzalez at short, Jed Lowrie at third, and Chris Woodward at second.  That seemed like a joke, and it was even worse since they were facing Toronto ace Roy Halladay.

Casey Kotchman makes a fine first baseman, but when he's the #3 hitter in the lineup, the team is in trouble.

Casey Kotchman makes a fine first baseman, but when he's the #3 hitter in the lineup, the team is in trouble.

I felt bad for Tim Wakefield, who never seemed to get much run support anyway, and now was hobbling around with a bad back but still trying to go out there and help the team (he even volunteered to go out to the bullpen on Monday night when Josh Beckett was scratched from his start at the last minute), and this was how they were repaying him?  And what about all the fans that had gone through the effort and expense of getting to the game that night?  Didn’t we deserve better too?  Couldn’t they rest a couple of guys at a time over the next five days, and still field a reasonable representation of a Major League team?  But being the diehard I am, I remembered how Paul Byrd had outdueled Halladay a month ago, and how the Sox had had a 12-run inning on a night with a lame-looking lineup in May, so I figured they still had a shot tonight.

Rookie Josh Reddick, who made his debut in July, seemed like a veteran compared to a bunch of the guys in tonight's lineup, who had joined the team more recently.

Rookie Josh Reddick, who made his debut in July, seemed like a veteran compared to a bunch of the guys in tonight's lineup, who had joined the team more recently.

I was wrong, though.  Very wrong.  While Wakefield didn’t allow any runs in the first – which was a pleasant departure from the two previous nights – he allowed two in the second and three in the third.  He was noticeably limping as he walked out to the field for each inning, and had trouble covering first on a bunt play in the second inning.  It didn’t seem he’d be ready in time to help in the playoffs, which was really too bad considering all he had done for the team in the first half of the season and throughout his career.  Fernando Cabrera came on to pitch the fourth, and Dustin Richardson entered in the fifth, and between the two of them three more runs crossed the plate.  At this point, we started scanning for empty seats behind the plate, waiting for people to start bailing so we could grab a better vantage point than our usual bleacher view.

When it was 10-0 at the end of the sixth, we made our move.  We started in the grandstand in Section 13, where I had been able to sit for the end of the game yesterday.  In between each batter, we moved down a couple of rows at a time, until we wound up in the field box seats behind first base in the seventh inning.

The good news is I was able to get some great close-up photos.  The bad news is they're all photos of Chris Woodward.

The good news is I was able to get some great close-up photos. The bad news is they're all photos of Chris Woodward.

Despite the great seats, the game got worse.  After Manny Delcarmen gave up two runs in the sixth, Hunter Jones pitched the seventh, and Hideki Okajima pitched the eighth.  We changed seats several more times, getting closer and closer until we wound up right behind the Red Sox dugout.  Because we kept moving and I was taking a lot of pictures, I started to lose track on my scorecard, so after awhile I just stuck to writing in the pitching substitutions and marking the end of the innings.

Hideki Okajima pitched the eighth and gave up a 2-run homer.

Hideki Okajima pitched the eighth and gave up a homer.

When “Sweet Caroline” played in the middle of the eighth, I sang along… sort of: “Good times never seemed so bad! So bad, so bad, so bad!”

David Ortiz returns to the dugout after striking out in the ninth.

David Ortiz returns to the dugout after striking out in the ninth.

In the ninth, I looked up and saw the new pitcher who had entered for the Red Sox – Dusty Brown, the rookie backup catcher.  He had only played in a handful of games and hadn’t even gotten his first Major League hit yet, and now here he was pitching.  The first batter he faced was Kevin Millar, who singled.  (We were really close to first base, so a guy behind me yelled out, “Hey, cowboy up, buddy!” when Millar got to first.)  The next batter doubled, and the first out of the inning was a grounder that knocked in the 12th run of the game.  After that, there was a popup to second.  Next up for the Jays was Randy Ruiz, who had already hit two homers that night.  Brown got a 1-2 count (he was throwing 75-mph fastballs and a 70-mph change-up, according to the scoreboard) and I thought, “I’d love it if he could strike this guy out.”  Sure enough, Ruiz swung and missed for strike 3, prompting a standing ovation for Brown as he left the mound at the end of the inning.

Catcher Dusty Brown makes his pitching debut.

Catcher Dusty Brown makes his pitching debut.

It wasn’t until I got home and watched the replay that I noticed that outfielder Rocco Baldelli had played third base in the ninth.  I guess I had missed the announcement because that was when Brown came in, and Rocco didn’t get any fielding chances.  But even without that knowledge, the game ended up a total mockery and a brutal 12-0 loss.

One Response to “No Laughing Matter”

  1. HADAJUN( Japanese) - March 5th, 2017

    Okajima a Japanese hero!

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