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Thursday, July 22, 2010 – McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket

PawSox 5, Mud Hens 4, 10 inn.

With the Red Sox off on a west coast road trip and my next game at Fenway two weeks away, it was the perfect time to head to Pawtucket to check out the Triple-A team.  When Jeremy Hermida returned from the disabled list, Daniel Nava was sent back down, and this was his first game back with the PawSox after his impressive major league debut.  I had missed Hermida, Josh Beckett, Mike Cameron, and Jed Lowrie playing in rehab stints with Pawtucket earlier in the week, but tonight was the first rehab game for Mike Lowell as he tried to work his way back from his latest hip injury.

The PawSox dugout included Daniel Nava (left), Tug Hulett (3rd from left), Lars Anderson (4th from left), Mike Lowell (standing), and Gil Velazquez (right).

The PawSox dugout included Daniel Nava (left), Tug Hulett (3rd from left), Lars Anderson (4th from left), Mike Lowell (standing), and Gil Velazquez (right).

On the mound was Ramon A. Ramirez (no relation to the Ramon Ramirez in the Boston bullpen), whom I had seen in Spring Training.  He had a shaky first inning, with two doubles, a wild pitch, and a single plating 2 runs for the Toledo Mud Hens, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.  A solo homer in the second put the PawSox in a 3-0 hole.

Centerfielder Ryan Kalish had singled and stolen a base in the first, and he picked up his second hit of the day in the third inning.  Shortstop Niuman Romero, who had spent a few days in the big leagues earlier in the month, followed with a single.  Daniel Nava was next, and he worked a 3-2 count.  Right fielder Nava was fresh off a flight to rejoin the team, and along with Lowell he was getting the biggest cheers of the night.  The cheers got even louder when he drove the full-count pitch over the left field fence to tie the game.

Daniel Nava is congratulated at home plate after his game-tying homer.

Daniel Nava is greeted at home plate after his game-tying homer.

Ramirez pitched into the fifth inning, when he was replaced by Tommy Hottovy.  Hottovy went 2-2/3 innings and was not exactly a groundball pitcher – of his 8 outs, 2 were strikeouts and 6 were fly balls.  There was one other fly ball in there too, a homer that gave the Mud Hens a 4-3 lead.

McCoy Stadium panorama.

McCoy Stadium panorama.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, second baseman Tug Hulett doubled and third baseman Gil Velazquez singled.  That set up a sac fly by Ryan Kalish that tied the game back up again.  Robert Manuel, who had been called up to Boston for a handful of games earlier in the month, came on to pitch the eighth.  He ended up going three innings, and each time he put the leadoff hitter on but didn’t allow the runner to advance.  Catcher Mark Wagner, who had been on the PawSox D.L. when both major league catchers were injured last month but had recently returned, threw out a would-be base-stealer in the eighth to help Manuel out.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gil Velazquez walked, but he was stranded and the game headed to extra innings.  It had been a slow-paced affair so it was already well past the 3-hour mark, and a lot of people left.  I took the opportunity to move down to a really close seat just beyond the backstop screen.  As I settled in, Manuel gave up a leadoff double, but he struck out the next three batters to get out of it.

Rehabbing fan-favorite Mike Lowell singled in the bottom of the tenth.

Rehabbing fan-favorite Mike Lowell singled in the bottom of the tenth.

Daniel Nava walked to lead off the bottom of the tenth, bringing up Mike Lowell.  He had gone 0-for-4 as the DH so far, but now he lined a hit into center field.  When the centerfielder bobbled it momentarily, it looked like Nava would be able to cruise all the way around to complete a storybook return for Lowell.  But the ball didn’t get far and he was held at third, with Mikey stopping at first on a single.  We gave Lowell a standing ovation when he returned to the dugout after being replaced by pinch-runner Argenis Reyes.  That brought up first baseman Lars Anderson.  He lashed the ball down the right field line.  At first I thought it had gone foul, but it was ruled fair, and Nava scored easily for the walk-off win.

Lars Anderson's teammates congratulate him after his walk-off hit.

Lars Anderson's teammates congratulate him after his walk-off hit.

My original plan when I chose this game was that it would end around 10:00, just as the Red Sox game would be starting in Seattle.  But with the PawSox game moving slowly and then going extra innings, it was 11:00 by the time I got back to my car.  I called my parents on my walk back to the parking lot and they told me that the Red Sox game was already in the third inning, and they had just taken a 3-1 lead.  As I listened to the radio on the way home, John Lackey was mowing down the Mariners lineup in a fast-paced game.  By the time I got home, that game was already in the sixth, and he hadn’t allowed a hit yet.  He made it until two outs into the eighth, when Josh Bard broke up the no-hit bid.  But the drama didn’t end there – the bullpen completely melted down, the Mariners tied it up, and it took a 2-run double by Eric Patterson in the 13th inning to finally give the Red Sox the victory.  That capped a fun day for me with 23 total innings of baseball and two exciting wins.

My seats in Pawtucket were fantastic (the original one plus the one I moved down to) and I got a lot of great pictures at the game.  See more in my album on Flickr.

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