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A Hockey Game Broke Out

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 37

Red Sox 3, Indians 1

After taking two of three from the Tigers over the weekend, the Red Sox dropped the opener of a 4-game series to the the Indians on Monday night.  On Tuesday I was headed back in to Fenway, and I took the day off from work so I could go in early with my parents.  We got in the Red Sox Nation line and went up on the Green Monster to watch batting practice.  It was fun to finally see B.P., because I’ve had pretty bad luck with the weather in a lot of the games that I’ve been early for.  Besides watching the hitters knock some out, we looked on as the pitchers shagged flies, and the young sons of Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre played in the outfield, where they gravitated toward young-at-heart relievers Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon, and Manny Delcarmen.

Six-year-old D'Angelo Ortiz is as cool as his Papi.

Six-year-old D'Angelo Ortiz is as cool as his Papi.

While we were watching, my father was able to go online with his PDA to get the evening’s lineups.  He also found out that Kevin Youkilis, who had injured his thumb in last night’s game, was being placed on the disabled list.  Losing yet another player to injury – especially one of our most productive hitters – was a big blow, but the timing meant good news for Mike Lowell, who was being activated off the D.L. to play first base tonight.  Lowell hadn’t been able to get much playing time all year.  He can play first base, third base, or DH, but those were the only three positions where there hadn’t been any injuries yet, and Youkilis, Beltre, and Big Papi were all doing so well it was hard to give any of them a day off.  Lowell, meanwhile, had finished a successful rehab at the end of July but hadn’t been added back onto the roster yet.  The Red Sox had tried to move him at the trade deadline, but other teams knew that if the Sox couldn’t find a taker they’d likely release him, so they were prepared to wait it out.  It sounded like Lowell could be gone in a matter of days.  The 2007 World Series MVP didn’t deserve that treatment, and making matters worse was the fact that two of the teams that were interested in signing him were the Rays and Yankees.  So while I wasn’t happy about losing Youk for 15 days, I was excited for Mikey being able to stay with the team.

Adrian Beltre Jr. follows his father in at the end of B.P.

Three-year-old Adrian Beltre Jr. follows his father in at the end of B.P.

When batting practice was over, we headed out to Yawkey Way, because we had heard that this was one of the games when fans would be able to get pictures taken with a current player.  The line was already forming on the Gate D end of the street, and a few minutes later, we found out it was Daniel Nava, who had worked his way into Red Sox lore when he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues earlier this year.  They kept the line moving quickly, and Nava did a good job of posing and conversing with everyone as we went through.

I met Daniel Nava before the game.  Think I can get him to sign this in Spring Training next year?

I met Daniel Nava before the game. Think I can get him to sign this in Spring Training next year?

We weren’t sure what to expect to expect from Josh Beckett tonight, although he had done well in his previous two starts since coming off the D.L.  But he struck out the first two batters on a total of 6 pitches, putting our concerns to rest, then picked up two more K’s in the second.  Beltre led off the bottom of the second with a single, and that brought Lowell to the plate.  We all jumped up to give the fan favorite a warm standing ovation – a combination of “welcome back” and “we’re happy you’re staying” – and we were still on our feet when he took the first pitch of the at-bat high over the Green Monster for a 2-0 lead.  Our cheers just grew louder as Lowell circled the bases and got wrapped in a giant bear hug from Big Papi when he reached the top step of the dugout.

Mikey rounds second base to a thunderous ovation after his first-pitch home run.

Mikey rounds second base to a thunderous ovation after his first-pitch home run.

In the third, Beckett gave up a solo homer, and two outs later he hit Shin-Soo Choo in the knee with a pitch.  As Choo lay on the ground and the trainers came out to check on him, we felt bad for him.  The Indians had just had their catcher Carlos Santana carted off the field the night before after a nasty collision at home plate.  So when Choo got up and hobbled to first base to stay in the game, we all applauded.  (But when he caught everyone by surprise by stealing second base, he lost any of the sympathy that I had had.)

Beckett got out of the inning with his sixth strikeout, and then went on cruise control; he pitched through the eighth allowing only one more baserunner the rest of the way.  Meanwhile Bill Hall gave the Red Sox an insurance run with a towering moonshot into the Monster seats in the fourth, and Lowell added to his special night with a good defensive play in the fifth where he dove for a sharply-hit grounder, spun around, and crawled to the bag in time for the out.

Daniel Bard chills out in the bullpen during the middle innings of the game.

Daniel Bard chills out in the bullpen during the middle innings of the game.

Our seats were in the front row of Section 37, where the high centerfield wall overlooks the triangle and the Red Sox bullpen.  We were enjoying the fast-paced and well-played game, but the Indians were apparently not as content as we were.  With Justin Germano on the mound in the seventh, they threw behind Big Papi, earning a chorus of boos.  In the middle of the eighth, Jonathan Papelbon started warming in the ‘pen in case he was needed in the ninth.  When the bottom of the eighth started, the first pitch from Cleveland reliever Jensen Lewis sailed over Adrian Beltre’s head.  Beltre stood at home plate and stared out toward the mound for a few seconds, and before we knew what was happening, the benches had emptied.

It always cracks me up during a brawl when the relief pitchers run in to join in the scrum, especially at Fenway where the bullpens are next to each other.  Players from both teams run in side-by-side, as if to say, “I’m going to get you… but not till we’re all in the infield.”  With so many people on the field, it was hard to tell what was going on.  Beltre and Beckett were both being held back by the coaches off to the side, but it mostly looked like shoving and shouting.  My main concern was making sure no one on my side got hurt or ejected, and it’s hard as a fan to know whether you should be cheering or booing when you can’t tell who’s doing what to whom.

The relievers run in from the bullpen to join in the action.

The relievers run in from the bullpen to join in the action.

After a couple of minutes, order was restored and the players started heading back to the dugouts with the relievers walking across the outfield grass toward the bullpens.  The umps and a small gathering of players stayed in the infield, no doubt sorting out who had been tossed and who was still in the game.  All of a sudden, Terry Francona was in an argument with one of the Cleveland coaches, and the players rushed back to the field.  That’s when we saw Daniel Bard hop over the bullpen fence and run in.  “Hey Bardsy,” I yelled.  “Get in there!  Where’ve you been?”  There hadn’t been enough time for him to have walked all the way back out there after the first go-round, and we quickly surmised he must have been in the bullpen bathroom when the whole thing started.  (I laughed at the thought of him opening the door and looking around, “Hey, where did everyone go?” and then seeing them all involved in a brawl.)  After Indians coach Steve Smith was tossed, the players once again returned to their places.  As they walked back to the bullpen, I noticed that the bullpen catcher had been in there with them, and my friend pointed out Hideki Okajima’s translator.  (That was a funny thought, imagining Oki in there cursing in Japanese with no one understanding him, and the poor translator getting punched in the nose when he repeated everything in English.)

When the dust settled, Beltre continued his at-bat, so he must not have been ejected, but Cleveland had a new pitcher, so Lewis must have been thrown out.  As far as we could tell, everyone else seemed to be in their same positions.  Papelbon went back to throwing warmup tosses, and the Sox went down quickly in the eighth.  When Paps came in for the ninth, we couldn’t tell if that meant Beckett had been ejected or not.  (We found out later he had been tossed.)  Papelbon mowed down the Indians in order, preserving the entertaining win.  And I was relieved a couple of days later when I learned that no one on the Red Sox was being suspended; there were just some fines for the players on the D.L. who left the bench, which they’re apparently not supposed to do.

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