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For Love of the Game

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 11, Rays 5

After the disheartening sweep by the White Sox over the weekend, the Rays came to town.  Even though the Red Sox won the first game Monday night, they lost again Tuesday, and Wednesday they were slated to face Matt Garza, who always seems to shut them down.  While there was still a slim chance that they could come back and make the playoffs (one only had to look back as far as the 2007 Rockies for an example of a team that made up a lot of ground in September) it looked pretty doubtful.  That thought was frustrating enough, but something that upset me even more was the quantity of people who made comments to me like, “You’re still going to games?”  As if the thought that my season was going to be shorter than I wanted, with nothing meaningful in October, would make me want to make it even shorter by giving up September too!  It was strange having to justify something that I found fun.  What ever happened to love of the game?  This was my tenth year of going to 25+ games.  When I started I had no idea how drastically things would change over the course of the decade.  Back then, my goal was just to see them win more than they lost.  I’ve always loved just being in the park, sharing whatever happens – good or bad – with 38,000 of my closest friends.  I believe that any game could be a chance to see something that’s never happened before.  And even with a lot of the regulars out due to injuries, the rookie replacements were guys I had followed through the minors and in Spring Training, so it was fun to see them on the big stage.

Every day at Fenway Park is a chance to see something you've never seen before.

Any trip to Fenway Park is a chance to witness something you've never seen before.

It didn’t take long for me to find something new that I had never seen before in my 250 or so games at Fenway Park.  When I got to my seat, the people next to me had brought a hearing dog – a guide dog for the deaf.  He was a big dog, curled up under their seats, and his nose twitched any time someone walked by with a hotdog.  I wondered how we were all going to fit once the row filled in, and I was curious how he’d handle sitting there for the whole game.  But the friend I was with is allergic to dogs, so when she arrived we moved down to new seats at the front of the section.

Because of the doubleheader over the past weekend, Tim Wakefield got the spot start tonight, and it wasn’t long before a B.J. Upton homer put the Red Sox in a 4-0 hole.  Luckily it didn’t stay that way long.  Adrian Beltre was the first to get to Garza, taking him deep with a two-run shot over the Green Monster.  Next thing we knew, Wake was shutting down the heart of the Rays’ order – Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Carlos Pena – on eight pitches, and when the Sox got back to the plate, Marco Scutaro and David Ortiz added Monster seat homers of their own.  By the time Victor Martinez blasted the Sox’ fourth home run of the game to tie it 5-5 in the fifth, Garza was done for the night, and it was all Red Sox from there on out.

Big Papi congratulates Adrian Beltre after his blast that started the Red Sox' homer barrage.

Big Papi congratulates Adrian Beltre after his blast that started the Red Sox' homer barrage.

Scott Atchison pitched two perfect innings in relief, and Scutaro added his second homer (and fourth hit) of the game in the seventh.  The Sox could have had even more runs if it hadn’t been for two different baserunning gaffes.  In the fourth, Bill Hall was on first when Lars Anderson singled into right.  Hall overran the second base bag and was tagged out, obscuring the fact that Anderson had just picked up his first major league hit.  An even weirder play occurred in the sixth with Eric Patterson on third, V-Mart on first, and no outs.  Papi hit a grounder to second, and Patterson tried to score.  The second baseman threw home, and Patterson was able to return to the third base bag in time – except that Victor was already standing on third.  With two runners on third it should have been Patterson’s base, so Victor was tagged out.  Only Patterson didn’t realize he was safe and stepped off the bag, at which point he also was tagged out.  From my seat in right field I had no idea what had happened.  I was still trying to figure out who had come in to pinch-run at third (it was Patterson) because I couldn’t see his number from that angle and I hadn’t caught the announcement.  (Maybe the hearing dog could have helped me!)  I had to wait until I got home to see the replay and sort it all out.

Josh Reddick had a good night with three hits and a nice defensive play in left.

Josh Reddick warms up in right in the top of the ninth. He had a good night, with three hits and a nice defensive play in left.

All the rookies, who were in subbing for injured players, did really well.  Ryan Kalish had an RBI double.  Josh Reddick had three hits and made a nice catch in the left field corner up against the Wall near the 310-marker.  I’ve followed both of them in the minors, but I’ve seen even more of Lars Anderson over the years.  I’ve gotten his autograph in Spring Training, and watched him at Sea Dogs and PawSox games, so it was particularly rewarding to see him get his first major league hit, and then later in the game, his second hit and first RBI.  He also made a nice play at first base, diving into foul territory to make a stop and then throwing to the pitcher covering.  Really the whole game made for such a feel-good night at the park that I couldn’t understand why anyone would not want to be a part of it.

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