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Foggy, Foggy Night

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 – Fenway Park, Sections 43 and 17

Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

The Red Sox returned to Fenway riding high after a three-game sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx.  The only thing that could dampen our spirits was actual rain, and that’s exactly what Fenway had in store for the entire homestand.  Monday’s fans sat through a steady rain as the Red Sox rallied back from a six-run deficit to win.  Tuesday’s game was completely rained out.  Wednesday’s weather looked as bad as Tuesday night’s, and Thursday’s wasn’t supposed to be much better.  But this two game series that was starting Wednesday night was the Tigers’ only trip to Boston, so if my game got rained out at night the likely makeup date would be Thursday afternoon.  Unfortunately I had a work commitment on Thursday that I couldn’t get out of (there was a big implementation that they had rescheduled for Thursday just so I could be there) so I really hoped they could get Wednesday night’s game in as planned.  I didn’t even care what kind of nasty weather I had to sit through, as long as the game was played.

Clay Buchholz delivered with a very strong start.

Clay Buchholz delivered with a very strong start.

It was raining as I walked up from the T station at about 6:30.  I took a peek out at the field and saw that they were in the process of taking the tarp off.  Once I was confident that they would actually be starting the game, I went and bought something to eat.  My next stop was the bullpen to watch Clay Buchholz get in his warmup throws.  By the time the game actually started, it was down to a drizzle, and we noticed after awhile that while a big misty fog hung over the park, we weren’t getting wet at all.  Maybe they would be able to get five innings in after all.  Buchholz had a 1-2-3 first with two strikeouts, but he went to a full count on every batter and needed 26 pitches.  This wasn’t helping speed the game along.

It might not have been as fast as I would have liked, but Clay did an excellent job against a hot Tigers lineup that had just won 7 games in a row before finally dropping one Monday night.  He didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked the #9 hitter in the third, and Detroit’s first hit was a double in the fourth.  The Tigers had doubles in the fifth and sixth, too, but each time Buchholz was able to get out of the inning unscathed.

Yes, that’s right, I said “sixth”.  The game became official at the end of the fifth, and we still weren’t getting rained on.  The problem now was that the game was scoreless, so if the rain did start and we couldn’t continue tonight, it would become a suspended game, finished tomorrow in front of Thursday’s ticketholders, not us who were here tonight.  Clay had an even 100 pitches at the end of the sixth, so I was a little surprised when he came back out for the seventh.  That’s when the rain started up, and he ended up hitting two batters with a single in between.  The rain got harder and Buchholz’s pitch count rose as leadoff batter Austin Jackson stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs.  We were on our feet for the whole at-bat, by far the most important showdown of the night.  The count went full and Jackson fouled a couple off, before finally whiffing to end the threat.  We were already on our feet, but Clay got a standing ovation as he walked off the field, and we stayed up for the seventh inning stretch.

by the time we found seats under cover in the grandstand, it was so foggy that even the Citgo sign was a faint blue blur.

By the time we found seats under cover in the grandstand, it was so foggy that even the Citgo sign was just a faint blue blur.

With a steady rain and the fact that it was late enough for the casual fans to bail, my friend and I decided to head for covered seats for the rest of the game.  We walked around behind the back row of the grandstand, so that we could see the Sox bat in the bottom of the inning as we made our way around to the infield.  When the inning ended, we found some empty seats in Section 17 and sat there.  Daniel Bard came in for the eighth and threw one pitch before the umps signaled for the tarp.  I noted the time on my scorecard – 9:32.

No sooner had the grounds crew stretched the tarp over the infield than my friend said, “Is it even raining anymore?”  It was hard to tell, because the fog had gotten worse, but it looked like maybe it had stopped.  Sure enough, right after she said that, at 9:39, the grounds crew came back out to start removing the tarp, seven minutes after putting it down.  It was as if they found out I was here and dragged the tarp out just so I could have a rain delay to sit through.  I was just glad that with this one as short as it was, hopefully I wouldn’t be here until 3 am this time, although I was still nervous about having to go extras, since the game was still scoreless.

The game resumed at 9:58, and by then it was so foggy that we could barely see the centerfield flag, not to mention the Dunkin Dugout.  Even the Citgo sign was reduced to a faint blue blur where the letters were.  I had a chuckle when I watched the replay at home and Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo quipped, “Earlier we were worried about not being able to see the Pru; now we can’t even see Jacoby Ellsbury.”  But the view was great where we wound up.

Jacoby Ellsbury ducks out of the way after being grazed by a pitch in the eighth.

Jacoby Ellsbury ducks out of the way after being grazed by a pitch in the eighth.

Bard returned and worked quickly, sending the Tigers down 1-2-3.  The rain delay may have actually helped the Red Sox, since Phil Coke, who had been shutting them down all night and had thrown only 78 pitches, did not return after the break.  Reliever Ryan Perry got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth, but then lefty Daniel Schlereth walked Carl Crawford.  Jim Leyland made a trip out to the mound, but ended up leaving Schlereth in to face Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  After a 2-1 count and a couple of throws over to first to check on Crawford, Schlereth delivered.  Salty banged the pitch off the Green Monster, and Crawford sped around to score the game’s first run.   After Schlereth hit a batter it was finally time for a pitching change, and Al Alburquerque (who has one of the coolest names in baseball) finally got the Tigers out of the inning with only one run in for the Sox.

Carl Crawford takes a lead off first, just before scoring the game's only run.

Carl Crawford takes a lead off first, just before scoring the game's only run.

With the Red Sox now holding a 1-0 lead, Jonathan Papelbon came in to nail down the save.  But the first batter of the inning was old friend Victor Martinez, who laced a double down the right field line.  A pinch-runner came in, the potential tying run in scoring position.  Paps induced a ground ball for the first out, but the runner moved on to third.  There was no more messing around after that.  He blew away the next batter on three pitches, and then struck out Ryan Rayburn to end it.  From where I was sitting (although I wasn’t able to capture it on film) I had a great view of his fist pump as he walked off the mound triumphantly at the end.

Congratulations to the Red Sox on a dramatic win.

Congratulations to the Red Sox on another dramatic win.

May 18, 2011 • Posted in: 2011 Games • Share on Facebook

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