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All’s Well That Ends Well

Sunday, August 1, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Red Sox 4, Tigers 3

It had been two weeks since my last game at Fenway, and somehow the Red Sox had managed to go 6-4 on a tough 10-game west coast road trip.  When they returned home, they split the first two games of a weekend series with the Tigers.  On Sunday, I parked at a meter  just outside of Kenmore Square as usual and went in early in the Red Sox Nation line.  From the Green Monster, we watched as the pitchers came out to throw.  We also saw Victor Martinez’s 5-year-old son and two other kids – one older and one younger – join them.  Victor Sr. pitched as the two youngest kids took turns batting in front of Pesky’s Pole.  Staff Assistant Rob Leary (that’s his official title, but he was also filling in as first base coach while Ron Johnson was away tending to an ill daughter) then took all three boys over near the rolled-up tarp and tossed them popups, which they took turns fielding.  My guess is that the oldest boy was Leary’s son, because he was wearing an Ortiz jersey; it wasn’t Papi’s son, and I’d imagine if his father was a player he’d be wearing his dad’s number.  I never figured out who the youngest kid was, but with the Picnic in the Park charitable event scheduled after the game, I imagine most players’ families would be on hand.

Daisuke Matsuzaka signed autographs for 45 minutes, including one for me!

Daisuke Matsuzaka signed autographs for 45 minutes, including one for me!

By the time we came down from the Monster, all the pitchers had gone in except Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, both of whom usually stay longer than everyone else.  I watched from Section 1, and when they were done, Dice-K went over near Canvas Alley and started signing autographs.  Usually if someone signs it’s very brief, and I didn’t think I’d have time to get all the way over there before he finished.  But I remembered seeing him sign in Spring Training a couple of years ago and he had stayed out there a long time.  I gave it a shot, and when I came out a little beyond where I had seen him, he was still there.  I waited about 15 minutes, but he was very diligent in not skipping anyone along the way.  He eventually made it to where I was standing, and I had him autograph my scorecard book.  After that I walked around behind home plate to get a coupon for a free soda from the Designated Driver booth, bought a slice of pizza and the soda, and went out into the stands to eat.  When I finished eating and looked up, Dice-K was still signing!  After checking the timestamps from my earlier photos, I saw he had stayed there for 45 minutes, which is pretty impressive.

J.D. Drew kicked up a cloud of dust with a sliding catch on the warning track in the second inning.

J.D. Drew kicked up a cloud of dust with a sliding catch on the warning track in the second inning.

Clay Buchholz had been the most consistent starter of late, and this time he was once again up to the task.  There were some good defensive plays – J.D. Drew made a sliding catch just in front of Pesky’s Pole in the second, and Adrian Beltre had a diving snare of a liner in the fourth – but it was mostly to the credit of Buchholz that the Tigers were held scoreless through the first eight innings.  In fact, Clay only allowed two hits over that time, and his teammates even managed to get him a 3-0 lead.

Eric Patterson acknowledges the fans on his way out to centerfield. He drove in the Red Sox' first run with a single in the second.

Eric Patterson acknowledges the fans on his way out to centerfield. He drove in the Red Sox' first run with a single in the second.

My friends and I were sitting in two different sections, but when the seats next to me remained unoccupied at the end of the second, they moved down, and we were able to sit together for the rest of the game.  Yes, it was all good through the first eight innings: sunny, warm but not too hot, plenty of good pitching, good defense, and timely hitting.  What more could a person want?  Actually, I can think of one more thing – a 1-2-3 ninth – but that wasn’t to be.

Buchholz had a low 98 pitches after the end of the eighth and he had really been cruising.  The bullpen had become more and more untrustworthy lately and Clay was on a roll, so he came out to try for the complete game.  Before we knew what happened, he allowed a lead-off single and a full-count walk, and Jonathan Papelbon was on his way in from the ‘pen to close it out.  Except… his first pitch was driven for a 2-run double, and one out later an RBI single tied the game.  A double play got him out of the inning, and then it was on to the bottom of the ninth.

Buchholz pitched well, and (skipping ahead a bit) everyone loves a walk-off.

Can we forget about the top of the ninth? Let's just skip ahead a bit and say that everyone loves a walk-off.

The Red Sox’ ninth inning started out much like the Tigers’, with Lowrie beating out an infield hit, Eric Patterson taking a walk, and Detroit making a pitching change.  Marco Scutaro came to the plate with the intention of bunting the runners into scoring position.  He squared, and dropped it down the first base line.  The pitcher fielded it.  It was going to be close at first, and Scutaro arrived ahead of the throw… loading the bases?  No, wait!   The throw was wild, into right field, and pinch-runner Darnell McDonald crossed the plate with the winning run!  Once the first notes of “Dirty Water” hit the air, all was forgiven.  The Sox rushed out to congratulate Scutaro, and Paps even wound up with the win.

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