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A Walk in the Park (And Then 7 More)

Thursday, May 27, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Royals 4, Red Sox 3

The Red Sox came into this game on a roll.  They were riding a 5-game winning streak against the division-leading Phillies and Rays, and all five starters had had good starts during that time.  Now they were returning home, and while normally attending a Daisuke Matsuzaka game would make me less than optimistic, the winning streak made it feel like the team was really starting to come together.  Dice-K himself had shut down the Phillies line-up in his last start, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning.  He worked with Jason Varitek that night, and it was Tek behind the plate again tonight.  It’s not like I expected him to have no-hit stuff again, but I didn’t think it was too much to ask that he stay in there long enough against the sub-.500 Royals to give his team a chance.

The first stop when I got to the ballpark was Yawkey Way, to see the filming of NESN’s pre-game show.  This was going to be the first game with their new pre- and post-game analyst, fan-favorite ’04 dirt dog Kevin Millar.  I went around to the side of the stage, and was able to get some good pictures.

Grab some Jack Daniels and KFC, turn up the rally karaoke machine, and cowboy up! Old friend Kevin Millar is back in town.

Grab some Jack Daniels and KFC, turn up the rally karaoke machine, and get ready to cowboy up. Old friend Kevin Millar is back in town! (Unfortunately, Dice-K's interpretation of his "Don't let us win tonight" rally cry must have gotten lost in translation.)

Back in our seats, the first inning was a little bit of a struggle (2 walks, a stolen base, and a passed ball) but Dice-K got out of it without giving up any runs.  He only needed 7 pitches for the 2nd inning, and the 3rd took just 13.  In the 4th, a walk, a single, and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with no outs.  I knew this situation was a specialty of his, so I stayed calm, imploring him to work his magic.  Sure enough, the next batter lined to first, where a leaping Kevin Youkilis snared it, although there wasn’t enough time to turn it into a double or triple play.  The next batter hit another liner – this one right to Dustin Pedroia at second.  And finally a fly ball to center got him out of the inning with the game still scoreless.  “Houdini-san!” I said with a bow, using the name I invented for him when he escapes a particularly perilous situation.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was his usual consistently inconsistent self. (Photo from pre-game warm-ups earlier in the month.)

Daisuke Matsuzaka was his usual consistently inconsistent self. (Photo from pre-game warm-ups earlier in the month.)

The Red Sox strung together three singles in the bottom of the inning to give Dice-K a 1-0 lead, and it looked like it was all coming together.  He had escaped the danger of the “one bad inning” he usually has… right?

Wrong.  A completely putrid 5th inning featured 5 walks, a stolen base, a wild pitch, one measly single – and 3 Royals runs.  Matsuzaka threw an astounding 42 pitches in that inning alone, and had to leave with only 2 outs.  Joe Nelson came in and got out of the mess, but the damage – to the game and to my psyche – was already done.

The sky was the prettiest thing about this game.

The sky was the prettiest thing about this game.

The Red Sox did draw closer as the game went on.  Bill Hall smashed a laser of a shot over the Green Monster, and Varitek’s double in the 6th drove in another run.  Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez kept the Royals off the board for the final 3 innings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a hideous 8-walk performance at the start of the game.

May 27, 2010 • Posted in: 2010 Games • Share on Facebook

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