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Let the Good Times Roll

Friday, June 17, 2011 – Fenway Park, Sections 36 and 24

Red Sox 10, Brewers 4

The sweep of the A’s started the Red Sox on a tear.  They went to New York and swept the Yankees for the second time this season, then headed to Toronto and swept the Blue Jays by an aggregate score of 35-6.  From there it was on to Tampa Bay to take two of three from the Rays, and they returned to Fenway Park to kick off a series against the Milwaukee Brewers holding a 1½ game lead in the division.

After watching John Lackey and Jason Varitek warm up in the ‘pen, I went up to my seat, almost all the way back in Section 36, where I had sat twice before as part of a four-pack of games I bought.  On my way there, I saw that the Yankees had already lost to the Cubs in an afternoon game, so we had a chance to gain another game in the standings with a win tonight.  So it was disappointing, to say the least, when Lackey labored through a 25-pitch first inning, allowing Milwaukee to take a 2-run lead right off the bat.

Big Papi claps his hands before stepping up to bat. We just needed to give the offense time to get started.

Big Papi claps his hands before stepping up to bat. We just needed to give the offense time to get started.

The Red Sox offense was really on a roll the past week.  They had scored 16 runs in Lackey’s last start and I had been joking that they were going to need at least 10 tonight.  Despite the early deficit, they got right to work when it was their turn.  Jacoby Ellsbury homered into the Red Sox bullpen to get them started, and a couple of batters later David Ortiz tied the game with an RBI double.  Carl Crawford beat out an infield hit, but appeared to injure himself as he crossed the first base bag.  I saw on my phone that he had strained his hamstring and could require some time on the D.L.  Meanwhile, the inning continued, as the Red Sox batters forced Shaun Marcum to throw 44 pitches in the first inning.  It was 7:54 – 44 minutes into the game – when J.D. Drew grounded out (with the bases loaded and a full count) to finally move the game into the second.

Adrian Gonzalez broke a 4-4 tie with a home run in the fifth inning.

Adrian Gonzalez broke a 4-4 tie with a home run in the fifth inning.

Dark clouds threatened overhead, but the game continued at a snail’s pace.  The Sox took a 4-2 lead on Kevin Youkilis’s single in the second, but Lackey gave both runs right back in the top of the third.  (And if it hadn’t been for a brilliant play by Dustin Pedroia at second where he dove for the ball and still had time to start a double play, it could have been worse.)  The game was billed as Red Sox Nation night, and between innings they were giving out prizes to whole rows of fans.  I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that everyone in row 12 of Section 43 had won a $5 food voucher.  That’s where my Tenth Man Plan seats are – I sit there 10 times a year, but of course tonight was not in the package and I was sitting somewhere else.

By the time the third inning ended at 8:37, Marcum had been knocked from the game (although we saw on the video board later that it was due to a hip flexor strain and not just from getting shelled) and Lackey had thrown 58 pitches of his own.  But at that point, something changed.  Lackey needed only 5 pitches for a 1-2-3 fourth, and he was helped along by more great defense by Pedroia.  This time it was a chopper off the mound, and Pedey was on the shortstop side of second base when he got to it before spinning and throwing to first for the out.

By the time Pedey came to bat in the eighth, he had walked, singled, scored a run, driven in a run, and made two sparkling defensive plays, turning his uniform to its familiar shade of filthy.

By the time Pedey came to bat in the eighth, he had walked, singled, scored a run, driven in a run, and made two sparkling defensive plays, turning his uniform to its familiar shade of filthy.

Suddenly Lackey was on a roll.  He retired the side in order in the fourth.  And again in the fifth.  And after Adrian Gonzalez gave the Sox the lead with a homer into the Monster seats in the bottom of the fifth, Lackey cruised through 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh, while the Red Sox tacked on a couple more.  Rain had been in the forecast all night, and I was watching a line of storms push eastward on my phone, so when I felt a couple of raindrops in the top of the seventh, I decided to head for cover in the grandstand as soon as the inning was over.

I wound up with a great seat in Section 24, and it never really did rain.

I wound up with a great seat in Section 24, and it never really did rain.

I was walking around behind the last row of seats as the Red Sox put two men on and scored a run on an error in the seventh, and I had just settled into an empty seat in Section 21 behind home plate when Drew drove in two more.  (There were the 10 runs I had wanted!)  At the end of the inning I moved over to Section 24, where I can take better pictures because it’s not behind the backstop screen.  I was actually impressed when Lackey came back out for the eighth, considering how his outing had started.  He did finally allow a single – the first Milwaukee baserunner since the third inning – but Jacoby Ellsbury made a good play on the next batter to sprint over to shallow right and catch a sinking liner and then doubled the runner off first.  Lackey finished with 111 pitches at the end of the eighth.

Matt Albers got the call for the ninth, and I had my video camera ready to record the final at-bat of the night.  (It’s a little shaky because I was also trying to turn on and focus my still camera at the same time.)  Here’s Corey Hart’s line drive to Drew Sutton at third base to end the game.  Love that dirty water!

June 17, 2011 • Posted in: 2011 Games • Share on Facebook

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