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Let’s Try This Again

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Mariners 4, Red Sox 2

My game was rained out on Tuesday, so I was back the next day for the make-up game.  Luckily for me, Wednesday’s game was scheduled for the afternoon, with both teams headed out of town after the game.  That meant the rainout was rescheduled for 7:10, so I wouldn’t have to use up a vacation day from work.  But it also meant my two friends who went with me on Tuesday couldn’t make it, so I gave the tickets to a co-worker and his wife.  It was cold for August – 64° at gametime and cooler after it got dark – and it alternated between mist and light rain for the first six innings.  I wore a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket, not to mention socks and sneakers instead of sandals for the first time in months.

The game I was supposed to see Tuesday night had Josh Beckett going against David Pauley.  But when it was rescheduled as a doubleheader, those two both shifted to the first game, leading to a 5-3 Red Sox win that I followed online at work.  The night game was now going to be the marqee matchup of the series, Jon Lester vs. Felix Hernandez.  But when I got to my seat, my co-worker pointed out that Tim Wakefield was warming up.  I was immediately concerned that something had happened to Lester, so I called my parents, who I knew would be watching the pre-game show at home.  They said that Daisuke Matsuzaka was being scratched from his start in Tampa Bay on Friday.  Apparently the Red Sox were holding off Lester so that he could go in place of Dice-K on Friday, with Wake coming out of the ‘pen for the spot start tonight, opposite the Mariners’ ace.

We sat through a lot of drizzle and mist until it finally cleared up in the sixth.

We sat through a lot of drizzle and mist until it finally cleared up in the sixth.

I knew that both Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon had pitched in the daytime win, meaning they weren’t going to be used at night.  Also Victor Martinez had caught the day game, meaning I got stuck watching Kevin Cash at night.  (V-Mart did shift over to play first base, so Cash ended up replacing Mike Lowell in the lineup, a downgrade either way.)  It didn’t look good on paper, but I certainly know that once the game starts anything can happen.  We did still have a few good hitters in the lineup, including Adrian Beltre.  I had been listening to WEEI in the car on the drive in, and all the talk was about how valuable Beltre has been this year, even going so far as to say that he deserved some consideration for the MVP.

Wakefield gave up a cheesy run in the first, thanks to his own throwing error which was probably due to the sloppy conditions and a couple of groundouts.  But now the Red Sox would have to come from behind, and it wasn’t going to be easy against Hernandez.  He blew through the Boston order, retiring the first six batters he faced, including striking out Beltre looking on just three pitches.  As the Red Sox took the field for the top of the third, all of a sudden there was a commotion in front of the visitors’ dugout.  It looked like Beltre was in an argument, and soon Terry Francona was out of the dugout, upset with the umpires, and tossed from the game.  All the while, Wake was making his warmup tosses on the mound, and it took another call to my parents to find out that Beltre had said something on his way out to third base and had been ejected.  NESN was on commercials at the time it happened, so they didn’t know much more about how it started than we did seeing it live.

While Wakefield makes his warmup tosses between innings, Tito is in a "discussion" with the umpiring crew.

While Wakefield makes his warmup tosses between innings, Tito gets into a "discussion" with the umpiring crew.

I saw more about it when I got home, and it was really a ridiculous call by an inexperienced ump who ended up costing us a game.  It turns out Beltre had a bet going with Hernandez, his friend and former teammate, about who would prevail when the two matched up.  After striking out in his first at-bat, Beltre shouted to Felix in the dugout as he took his position at third base.  He said, in Spanish, that next time he was taking him deep.  When rookie ump Dan Bellino took exception to that, Beltre said, “I’m not talking to you.”  And that, apparently, was enough for Bellino to throw one of the Sox’ best hitters out of the game.  Even more obnoxious was umpire Angel Hernandez who kept chasing Tito around and stepping in front of him every time he tried to speak to Bellino for an explanation.

Now, as if we weren’t already at enough of a disadvantage, rookie Yamaico Navarro, who only had two games of major league experience, had to fill in for Beltre at third base and bat fifth for the rest of the game.  And it didn’t take long for Wake to give up two more runs, putting the Sox in an even bigger hole.

Hitting coach Dave Magadan and Dustin Pedroia sit on the manager's bench in the dugout. With Tito ejected, does Pedey think he's now running the show?

Hitting coach Dave Magadan and Dustin Pedroia sit on the manager's bench in the dugout. With Tito ejected, does Pedey think he's now running the show?

The Red Sox did finally manage to get a run across in the bottom of the third, but it took errors on two consecutive plays by the Seattle shortstop on the wet infield, followed by a wild pitch.  Wake gave up another run in the sixth, but really it was impressive that he was able to go that far, since he wasn’t stretched out as a starter.  Four runs in 5-2/3 innings is nothing to complain about from a spot starter pitching on short notice.

Ryan Kalish doubled - one of only four hits by the Red Sox all night - and scored the Red Sox' first run.

Ryan Kalish doubled - one of only four hits by the Red Sox all night - and scored the Red Sox' first run.

Down 4-1 in the sixth, J.D. Drew tried to get the Sox back in it with a solo shot into the centerfield bleachers near the camera well.  Scott Atchison, Manny Delcarmen, and Felix Doubront pitched the final three innings.  They each had their share of baserunners, but didn’t allow any runs.  That meant the Sox trailed by only two runs heading into the bottom of the ninth, so a win was still possible.  Mike Lowell pinch-hit for Navarro and led off with a single.  But then Daniel Nava grounded into a double play and Jed Lowrie flied out to end it.  When I had first heard about the change in the rotation, my inclination was to blame Dice-K if this game didn’t turn out well, but after it ended I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of a clueless umpire.  The Yankees and Rays had both lost, so this was a waste of a chance to gain ground on both of them.

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