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Return of the Laser Show

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Red Sox 6, Angels 0

It was two weeks since my last game at Fenway, and it felt like a really long time since I had been there.  I had survived two other 2-week gaps this year, but both times I had helped fill the span with minor league games.  The Sox were returning home after a 5-5 road trip through New York, Toronto, and Texas.  There were some changes to the team: Eric Patterson was going on the disabled list and Dustin Richardson was sent down to Pawtucket, with Daniel Nava called back up.  But the big news for Tuesday’s game was the return of Dustin Pedroia, on his 27th birthday, after nearly two months on the D.L. with a broken foot.

Pedey was cheered when he came out of the dugout before the game to do his warmup stretches, then again when the starting lineups were read.  Everything was great until the game started.  But then Clay Buchholz gave up a double to the first batter he faced, and it got worse when the second batter hit a grounder to first and Clay looked like he tweaked something while covering the base.  Terry Francona and the trainers came out to check on him, but the scary moment was short-lived, and after a couple of warmup tosses he was able to continue.  The next batter hit a grounder right to Buchholz who threw home to get the runner out trying to score, and then a harmless fly to left ended the inning.

Dustin Pedroia, heart and soul of the Red sox and self-professed "laser show", was back, and it didn't take him long to get his uniform dirty.

Dustin Pedroia - heart and soul of the Red Sox and self-professed "Laser Show" - was back, and it didn't take him long to get his uniform dirty.

With the crisis averted, it was time for the bottom of the first and Pedroia’s first trip to the plate.  We gave him a big standing ovation as he was announced and stayed standing for the whole at-bat.  I was hoping for a grand entrance like Mike Lowell made earlier in the month when he homered in his first at-bat, but instead Pedey worked a 2-2 count and then struck out looking.  He got a chance to make his mark in the very next inning, though.  The first batter grounded one sharply past a diving Pedroia for a hit, but the next batter also sent one his way.  He fielded it, spun and dove to tag out the baserunner, and still had time to throw it to first to complete the double play.  That’s what we’ve come to expect from Pedey, and it turned his uniform to its familiar shade of dirty.

One moment the sun was setting over the Green Monster; the next moment a Darnell McDonald blast soared high over it into the night sky.

One moment the sun was setting over the Green Monster; the next moment a Darnell McDonald blast soared high above it into the night sky.

With the game still scoreless in the third, Adrian Beltre did his part to get the Sox on the board.  He hit a long drive into right-center, bound for the home bullpen.  But Angels’ right fielder Torii Hunter sprinted over, reached over the bullpen wall right where the team’s stuffed parrot sits, and robbed Beltre of the homer.  In the following inning, Darnell McDonald made sure no one caught up with his blast, when he sent a solo shot high over the Green Monster and out onto Lansdowne St.  A guy behind me got a phone call from a friend who was watching on TV, and he said it actually smashed through the back window of a car parked on the roof of the parking garage across the street!

It got even better in the fourth.  David Ortiz started off with a single, and two outs later both J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell walked to load the bases.  That brought up rookie Ryan Kalish, who had impressed since he was called up a couple of weeks ago.  He drove one into the Red Sox bullpen, too high for anyone to catch.  It was his second career home run – his first grand slam – and it gave the Red Sox a 5-0 lead.

Ryan Kalish had a good night at the plate.

Ryan Kalish had a good night at the plate.

I was sitting in centerfield, and we gave Kalish a warm ovation when he came out to take his position the following inning.  Some of the people around me were getting annoying; there seemed to be a lot of people there with pre-schoolers who were way too young to be interested in watching a baseball game.  The kid next to me spent an entire inning flipping the seat bottom up and down while his mother pleaded with him, “Look, over there.  Look at the baseball players.  See that guy there?  Watch him, he’s going to try to catch the ball.”  It was not exactly the stimulating conversation I enjoy at a game, so since I was there by myself that night, I decided to move around to better seats.

I made a run for it at the end of the sixth.  It took the whole break between innings to get from the centerfield bleachers to the Section 1 grandstand in right field, and then as the seventh inning started I walked along the back of the outfield grandstand so I could still see the game.  Buchholz was still in there, and he wrapped up his outing of 7 shutout innings with a flourish, fanning his final two batters.  I was behind first base for the 7th inning stretch, and stayed in the standing room area there for the bottom of the inning, in which the Red Sox went down in order.  That’s when people started to bail, and while some seats opened up on the first base side, I was able to sneak down to seats in that section earlier this year.  This time I wanted to try the third base side, and I found an empty seat in the Section 24 grandstand for the top of the eighth.  There I watched reliever Felix Doubront load the bases with two outs, and then come back to strike out Erick Aybar on three pitches to get out of it.

I moved around to great seats late in the game.

I moved around to great seats late in the game.

For the bottom of the eighth, I moved down even closer, to the loge box seats in Section 23.  The Red Sox had two hits but couldn’t score.  For the top of the ninth, I moved down to the front and found a padded field box seat right behind the visitors’ on-deck circle.  Michael Bowden came on for the ninth, and had an impressive 1-2-3 inning to finish off the game.  Pedroia finished the night 0-for-4, but he made some good plays in the field and later admitted to feeling jitters in his first game back.  The important thing was that the Laser Show was back and ready to go, just in time for the stretch run.

Michael Bowden had a quick 10-pitch ninth, but would it have killed him to waste a few pitches? I had just moved down to a really good seat!

Michael Bowden had a quick 10-pitch ninth, but would it have killed him to waste a few pitches? I had just moved down to a really good seat!

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