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Back in the Habit

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Yankees 3, Red Sox 1, 10 innings

Opening Day is always special because it means a new season is starting.  But it’s also exciting to attend my second game of the season, because that makes it feel like the season is really in progress.  It’s back to the routine of having a game every night and being able to see them in person on a regular basis.  Because I was coming from work, I wasn’t early enough for batting practice, but I was there in time to eat a slice of pizza, pick up a free soda from the Designated Driver booth, and walk around to my seat.  I was in my Tenth Man Plan seats for the first time this year, and it was good to see all the regulars from that section back again.

In can get hot insode the Fenway Park scoreboard, so the guy who posts the score takes the chance to get some fresh air before the game starts.

It can get hot inside the Fenway Park scoreboard, so the guy who posts the score took the chance to get some fresh air before the game started.

The truly amazing thing about this game was the weather.  It had topped 90° during the afternoon in Boston, and the game-time temperature was a toasty 86°, without the humidity that comes with summer.  Normally in April I’m bundled up with longjohns, scarf, and blanket for a night game, and this year I got new Red Sox gloves that were ready to go.  Tonight I would have been fine in shorts and sandals, even at the end of the game.  But I just couldn’t get it through my New England brain that the third game of the year could be that warm, so although I left the winter gear at home, I wore jeans and sneakers with socks and brought along a sweatshirt that I never needed.

This was John Lackey’s first start as a member of the Red Sox, and I was interested to see how he would do.  While he had traditionally struggled at Fenway early in his career, he seemed to have turned the corner in July of 2008.  He almost had a no-hitter that night, and since then had done better against us in the playoffs in ’08 and ’09.  I also knew the Angels always seemed to play well against the Yankees over the years, so I was optimistic about our chances tonight.

Victor Martinez, John Lackey, and John Farrell walk in from the bullpen before the game.

Victor Martinez, John Lackey, and John Farrell walk in from the bullpen before the game.

Lackey did not disappoint.  He didn’t give up a hit till there was an infield single with two outs in the third, and he finished his day with 6 scoreless innings, 3 hits and 2 walks.  On the offensive side the Red Sox had a lot of baserunners, but they couldn’t turn them into runs until Big Papi’s clutch 2-out hit in the third gave them a 1-0 lead.  I was happy to see Papi driving in a run, because the “mediots” in the paper and on the airwaves had been making it their personal agenda to criticize every swing of his that didn’t result in a home run.  Sure, he got off to a slow start last year, but he had a strong final four months and finished with a respectable 99 RBI.  Why any of that should carry over to this year was beyond me, and the idea that people could turn on someone with a track record as good as his after two whole games was just ludicrous.  So I enjoyed seeing him come through, because that would shut the doubters up.

With two outs in the fifth and the Sox still leading 1-0, Victor Martinez reached on an infield single, and Kevin Youkilis was drilled in the helmet by Andy Pettitte.  It looked scary, but he shook it off and stayed in the game.  That brought up David Ortiz, and we rose to our feet, chanting “Papi, Papi, Papi”.  He worked a full count, but ended up striking out.  I was disappointed that the inning was over, but I was appalled when I actually heard some boos.  (And not just disappointed “Ugh-the-inning-is-over” groans, but mean-spirited “This-guy-should-never-play-another-game” boos.)  Seriously? In the third game of the season?  A game that we were leading – and leading because he had knocked in the only run we had?  Directed toward a guy who’s been responsible for everything we’ve had to be happy about in the past 7 years?  Had these ingrates already forgotten this and this and this (not to mention many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many more of these)?  Had they ever watched a baseball game, or followed a team for a whole season before?  It’s not often I’m embarrassed by Red Sox fans, but that really disgusted me.

Despite my annoyance with a couple of vocal yokels, it was actually a great night for baseball.

Despite my annoyance with a couple of vocal yokels, it was actually a great night for baseball. (Click the image to enlarge.)

The game continued, with the Sox still in the lead, through Lackey’s six innings of work.  (Warnings were issued when he plunked Derek Jeter to open the sixth, but that seemed pretty ridiculous.)  In the seventh, Scott Schoeneweis put a runner on base and Daniel Bard let him in to tie the game 1-1.  Bard stayed in for the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth.  What ended up being the problem was that Chan Ho Park pitched three scoreless innings for the Yankees.  I assumed he was completely washed up, and the Sox had knocked him around on Opening Night, so it was really frustrating that J.D. Drew’s ninth-inning single accounted for the only baserunner during that time.  They couldn’t do anything else with him, and at the end of the ninth it was still tied.

It was also only 10:00, which is pretty strange for a Red Sox/Yankees game.  We pretty much assume these games are going to go four hours, so to have the first nine innings last only three hours, even for a low-scoring game, was pretty surprising.  I joked that even if one of the teams scored, they’d have to keep playing because they were obligated to go at least another hour.  It’s too bad it didn’t work that way, because Papelbon gave up two runs, including a long homer by Curtis Granderson, in the top of the tenth, and the Red Sox weren’t able to come back in the bottom of the inning.

April 7, 2010 • Posted in: 2010 Games • Share on Facebook

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