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Monday, May 9, 2011 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Red Sox 2, Twins 1, 11 inn.

The Red Sox had taken two of three games against the Twins over the weekend, and Monday they wrapped up the series.  The Sox were hanging four games back in the division, well within striking distance but still in search of a consistent run of good games that would get them over .500.  So far they were 5-5 on this homestand, their longest of the year, with one game left to play.

I refer to May 9th as my “Fenniversary,” because it was 24 years ago today that I went to my first game at Fenway Park.  (In 2007, three days after my 20th Fenniversary, I sat in almost the same seat that I had that first day, and did a “Then and Now” comparison.)

A display of items from the Fenway Park archives is in the newly-renovated area between home plate and first base.

A display of items from the Fenway Park archives is in the newly-renovated area between home plate and first base.

There wasn’t much traffic, so even though I had a longer ride on the T coming from Sullivan Station, I got to Fenway with a little time to spare before heading out to my seat.  That gave me a chance to check out the memorabilia displayed in the “Fenway Park Archives” case  around the corner from Gate D.  It has tickets from past World Series, a base and Mike Lowell’s jersey from the 2007 World Series, and lots of other interesting things.  What I didn’t like was that most of the items were not labeled, so I wasn’t sure if they had special significance.  I assume the two candlepins in the foreground are from the bowling alley that used to be under Fenway, but I’m not sure what some of the other things are supposed to be.

My seat was up near the back row in Section 36, the same one I had for Opening Day.  The temperature was announced at 60°, but it felt much colder, and there was a strong wind that had the centerfield flag blowing straight in all night.  Josh Beckett cruised through a 1-2-3 first, needing only 13 pitches to induce three fly balls that were knocked down by the wind.  I thought it was cool that despite allowing a single in the second, and a walk and a single in the third, he threw exactly 13 pitches in each of the first three innings.

Josh Beckett had another strong outing: 7 IP, 0 R.

Josh Beckett had another strong outing: 7 IP, 0 R.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled in the third, extending his hitting streak to 18 games.  But despite the Red Sox having baserunners in each of the first four innings, the game was still scoreless when it started raining in the bottom of the fifth.  Not again!  My last game had had a 2½ hour rain delay and then went 13 innings, for an end time of 2:45 am.  I didn’t want to go through anything like that again anytime soon!  But Jason Varitek opened the fifth with a double and moved up on a groundout.  Finally, with two outs, Adrian Gonzalez came up with a big hit to get the run home.  (Ironically, once we had 5 innings in the books with the Sox in the lead, the rain stopped.)

Beckett continued to dominate through his seven innings of work.  But Alfredo Aceves gave up an infield hit and balked the runner to second.  (This was Aceves’s second balk in as many appearances.  He had balked a run home in Friday night’s game, a couple of innings after Terry Francona had been ejected arguing a balk charged to Tim Wakefield.  This time Tito came out of the dugout, but the exchange was a lot less heated as the umps were apparently just explaining what they saw, and no one got tossed.)  With two outs, the runner at second, and Daniel Bard presumably unavailable, Jonathan Papelbon was called in early to get out of the mess, but he allowed a single that tied the game.  The Sox went in order in the bottom of the eighth, and pinch-runner Darnell McDonald was picked off to end the ninth, sending the game into extra innings once again.  Unlike my last game, it was only 10:00 when the ninth inning ended, leaving plenty of time for heroics.  But the wind was as strong as ever (and it got really cold in the bleachers as the casual fans departed) making the likelihood of a walk-off homer unrealistic.  They were going to have to string some hits together to get it done.

Both teams put two runners on in the tenth, but no one scored.  Hideki Okajima had two more baserunners in the eleventh, but escaped that threat too.  Jed Lowrie walked with one out in the twelfth, and he was replaced by pinch-runner Jose Iglesias, the top-ranked prospect who had just been called up when Marco Scutaro went on the D.L.  Iglesias had made his major league debut in the ninth inning the night before, and this was his first chance on the basepaths.  He had plenty of time to get ready, as Carl Crawford worked a full count.  Crawford had started the season slowly, but seemed to turn the corner a week ago when he had a walk-off hit to end the game on May 1.  This time he hit a drive to left-center and it banged off The Wall.  Iglesias sped around third.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the on-deck batter, was motioning for Iglesias to slide so fervently that he was practically lying down in front of the plate.  The throw came in and it was close, but he was safe!

Here’s the aftermath of another exciting Red Sox win:

After Jose Iglesias was properly conrgatulated for crossing the plate with the winning run, his teammates turn their attention to Carl Crawford at second base who had delivered the big hit...

After Jose Iglesias was properly congratulated for crossing the plate with the winning run, his teammates turned their attention to second base where Carl Crawford stood after delivering the big hit...

...and promptly tackled him.

...and promptly tackled him. Winning games for the Red Sox (much like watching them) is not for the faint of heart!

But it's all good when the Red Sox pull off a dramatic extra-inning win!

But it's all good when the Red Sox pull off a dramatic extra-inning win!

May 9, 2011 • Posted in: 2011 Games • Share on Facebook

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