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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Sunday, August 22, 2010 – Fenway Park, Sections 14 and 24

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0

Five days after my last game, I was back at Fenway, and luckily for me it was back to Clay Buchholz in the rotation again.  The only problem was the weather map, which had rain in the forecast all day.  Normally on a Sunday I’d go in really early, but I knew there’d be no batting practice.  I went a little later than usual (the gates had already opened when I got there) but still with enough time to get a free parking space at a meter on Comm. Ave., half a mile down the street from Kenmore Square.

It was only a drizzle as I walked to the park, and the rain was light enough when I went in that I could walk down Yawkey Way.  I was happy to see that they had added a dry-erase marker board on the wall next to the souvenir store where they had the lineups posted.  They used to do that a couple of years ago, but the addition of a new staircase to the club seats took that space.  For the past two years they’ve used posters hanging above the souvenir store for the Red Sox lineup, but rookies and new players didn’t have posters and it didn’t say which position they were playing, plus the visiting team was not represented.  I’m glad they’ve addressed this and found a new place to post the lineups.

The grounds crew got plenty of practice putting the tarp on and taking it off.

The grounds crew got plenty of practice putting the tarp on and taking it off.

The rain got heavier as gametime approached.  When the scheduled start time of 1:35 rolled around, there was still no movement of the tarp and it was apparent that we were going to have to wait out a rain delay.  My ticket was for my Tenth Man Plan seat out in the bleachers, but I waited in the grandstand near home plate.  There was no sense heading out there until I was sure there’d be a game, and at least sitting in the stands – as opposed to waiting underneath in the concourse – I could see what was going on.  As we waited, they played the Yankees/Mariners game on the scoreboard.  The rain tapered off, and finally the grounds crew came out to start getting ready.  We got word that the game would start at 3:15, 1 hour and 40 minutes after the scheduled start.  I weighed going out to the bleachers versus staying where I was.  The grandstand started filling in and it looked like most people were still there, so I probably couldn’t stay in that section, but I didn’t want to walk all the way around to the opposite side of the ballpark just to have it start raining again.  So I went to the standing room area in Section 14 behind first base, and kept an eye out for seats that no one came for.

Clay Buchholz had another strong outing and continued his scoreless streak.

Clay Buchholz had another strong outing and continued his scoreless streak.

Buchholz started each of the first three innings with a walk, but each time he was able to get out of it.  In the first, he was helped by a nice pick of a line drive by Marco Scutaro, and in the second he struck out the side.  In the top of the third, the rain got harder.  I was surprised they were still playing in weather like this, because it was worse than anything we had seen during the delay.  But Clay was unfazed, striking out Jose Bautista and Vernon Wells for the first two outs of the inning.  Adam Lind was at the plate with a 1-1 count, when the umpires finally signaled for the tarp.

I headed for one of the seats I had been watching.  It was in the last row of the loge box seats in Section 14, it was under cover, and it had been empty the whole time.  From there, I watched as they put the tarp back on (after which the rain quickly tapered off again) and showed the Rays/A’s game on the big screen.  Eventually we were told the game would be starting up again at 5:05, an hour after play was stopped.

Bill Hall is congratulated after his diving catch to end the third.  he was the offensive and defensive star of the game.

Bill Hall gets a high-five from Adrian Beltre after his diving catch to end the third. Hall was the offensive and defensive star of the game.

As I settled into my good new seat, the game picked up where it left off – with Adam Lind at the plate with a 1-1 count, two outs, and a runner on first.  I was happy to see that Buchholz had returned after the delay.  After one more strike, Lind lofted a ball into shallow left.  Bill Hall made a great play, diving head first to gather the final out of the inning.

It was still scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth, when we were treated to the highlight of the day.  Big Papi led off the inning with a shot into the gap in left-center, off the base of the Wall.  As he rounded first, the ball bounced over the left fielder’s head, and when he approached second there was no sign of him slowing down.  He ended up sliding safely into third with a triple that energized the crowd – and his teammates.  Adrian Beltre followed with a double to bring home the first run of the day, and later in the inning Bill Hall launched a towering blast way over the Green Monster.

Big Papi had a big day, including a triple in the fifth inning.  The next day he dubbed himself a "speed killer" on the basepaths and asked Tito to bat him leadoff.

Big Papi had a big day, including a triple in the fifth inning. The next day he dubbed himself a "speed killer" on the basepaths and told Tito he wanted to bat leadoff.

At the end of the sixth, I moved around again, to the box seats in Section 24.  That gave me a perspective from the third base side of home plate and a chance to see into the dugout.  It seemed like every time I looked, Dustin Pedroia had everyone laughing.  He was back on the D.L. after only two games, and there was concern now that he may need season-ending surgery, but he was certainly keeping the mood light.  At times I spotted his injured teammates Kevin Youkilis, Mike Cameron, and Jason Varitek joining him in cheering on the team.

In the Red Sox dugout, Pedroia cracks his teammates up. On the far left is Kevin Youkilis with his injured hand in a bandage.

In the Red Sox dugout, Dustin Pedroia keeps John Lackey and the rest of his teammates laughing. On the far left is Kevin Youkilis with his injured hand in a bandage.

Buchholz was done at the end of the sixth. It wasn’t the cleanest of outings – he allowed baserunners in all but one inning – but it was impressive that he stayed out there so long given the delays and the conditions, as it continued to rain throughout the day.  In the process, he had continued his personal scoreless streak and lowered his ERA to a league-leading 2.26.  Daniel Bard pitched the seventh, and Felix Doubront handled the eighth and ninth.

The Red Sox added two more runs in the eighth, on RBI singles by Victor Martinez and David Ortiz.  By the time Doubront put the finishing touches on the game, it was after 7:00 and it was already getting dark.  (Not to mention I was really hungry because I was waiting to get home to eat instead of spending more money to eat a second meal there.)  The official time of game ended up being 2:45, with the cumulative rain delay time adding up to 2:44.  But even though the day was long and the weather was less than ideal, the game was exciting and my seats were good, so it was time well spent.

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