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Retreat, Repeat, Regurgitate

Thursday, April 22, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Rangers 3, Red Sox 0

The night after Darnell McDonald made his impressive debut, the Red Sox won a second straight game in walk-off fashion, this time with a Kevin Youkilis wall-ball in the bottom of the 12th.  While I enjoy the drama of a late-inning come-from-behind win, by the time I got to Thursday’s game I really wanted to see a game where they got out to an early lead and cruised.

The grounds crew rolls up the tarp.

The grounds crew rolls up the tarp.

When I got to the park, the grounds crew was taking the tarp off the field.  There was a quick burst of rain during the first inning so I put on a poncho, but as soon as I got the whole thing on and was settled back in my seat, the rain stopped and we didn’t have any more the rest of the night.

This was my fifth game of the year, and with Clay Buchholz taking the mound tonight, I’ve had the chance to see all five starters.  It doesn’t usually work out that way; I usually get stuck seeing whoever’s doing worst at the time over and over and over (see Burkett, John and Clement, Matt among others)  so it’s nice to have a more balanced assortment this time.  (Of course I couldn’t help joking that it was because they had all gotten off to an equally bad start – even though I fully expected that to change any day now.)

It did seem like the team’s fortunes were changing, starting-pitching-wise, at least, when Buchholz had a quick 1-2-3 first inning with two strikeouts.  He had a couple of baserunners in the second, but he racked up two more K’s then and added another pair in the third.  It was a really strong outing for Clay; after 6 innings, he was shutting out the Rangers and had piled up 9 strikeouts with an economical 88 pitches.  Detracting from my enjoyment, however, was the fact that his teammates hadn’t done anything at the plate in the way of run support.  It was starting to get frustrating, worrying that this good start was going to be wasted.

Fenway Park on a cool night.

Fenway Park on a cool night.

When Buchholz gave up the game’s first run on a couple of hits in the 7th, people around me started to clamor for some activity in the bullpen.  With no one even warming up, they thought Terry Francona was hanging the young starter out to dry.  The problem was that the previous night’s game had gone extra innings and had required 5 scoreless innings of work from the bullpen.  Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard had each gone two innings the night before, and Hideki Okajima had appeared in a lot of games recently, so all three were unavailable for tonight’s game.  When two more runs scored on an error, the guy next to me got insistent about going to the bullpen.  “Be careful what you wish for,” I cautioned, and sure enough, on came Ramon Ramirez, who had really struggled all year.  Surprisingly, he got out of the inning, but by then the damage had been done.

It was Tito's birthday, but there was no cause for celebration on the firld.

It was Tito's birthday - along with being Earth Day - but there was no cause for celebration on the field.

It ended up really frustrating that after Buchholz had put up one of the best starts of the season, he had nothing to show for it.  Just when it seemed like the team had gotten on a roll the past two nights, they were up to their old tricks again.  It was certainly a theme I didn’t want to see re-used, even on Earth Day.

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