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Tuesday, July 26, 2011 – Fenway Park, Section 34

Red Sox 13, Royals 9

The Red Sox dropped their Monday night game to the Kansas City Royals, but Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 22 games.  I headed in for Tuesday night’s game, but it took longer than usual to get there when my Green Line train had to pause 20 minutes between two of the stops because of a disabled car up ahead.  I usually like to get to Fenway no later than 6:30 for a 7:10 game, but this was more like 6:50.  This was going to be the first time I got to see Andrew Miller pitch, and I had planned to go down behind the bullpen as he warmed up to get some pictures.  But now there wasn’t time.  I went straight to the ladies’ room, then got my soda and a slice of pizza, and headed to my seat.  As I walked along the tall center field wall, I saw that Miller was still warming up, right below me in the ‘pen.  I set down the beverage on the edge of the wall, and somehow managed to hold onto the pizza with one hand and get the camera out of my bag (and turned on and focused) with the other hand just in time for him to look up in my direction.  I was happy that I was able to get a good photo with just one shot – usually it takes me several attempts to get a decent picture.

Andrew Miller warms up in the bullpen before the game.

Andrew Miller warms up in the bullpen before the game.

My seat was a cool one at the far end of Section 34 in the corner next to the center field camera well.  I was in the end of a row up against the wall, which meant there was space to stash my bag and beverage so they wouldn’t get knocked around.  Before I left work, I saw online that J.D. Drew had gone on the D.L., and Drew Sutton had been called back up (leaving, as I noted on my scorecard, the “same # of Drews”).  Josh Reddick was taking over for Drew  in right, but Jacoby Ellsbury was also given a rare night off, meaning Darnell McDonald was in center.  Jacoby had only missed one game all year, so Darnell hadn’t had a lot of chances to play center field recently.  I noticed as he took his position in the top of the first, that he pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket – presumably a “cheat sheet” on the Kansas City hitters – took a look, put it back in his pocket, and then took a couple of steps over toward right.

Darnell McDonald puts his "cheat sheet" back in his pocket on a rare night in center field.

Darnell McDonald puts his "cheat sheet" back in his pocket on a rare night in center field.

Miller was shaky and allowed two runs in the first.  The Red Sox got them back in the home half, but in two totally different ways.  McDonald led off with a walk, stole second, moved up on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly for the first run.  For the second, Dustin Pedroia – batting cleanup in place of the injured Kevin Youkilis – mashed a triple off the center field wall right in front of me to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, and Big Papi followed with a double to drive him in.

Hey, who's that dork in the blue shirt with her arms raised in the air? Oh, wait, that's me!

Hey, who's that dork in the blue shirt with her arms raised in the air? Oh, wait, that's me, as Pedroia's triple heads for the wall.

Miller hurt his own cause in the second with a throwing error, and two more Royals runs crossed the plate.  Finally a double play in the third helped him complete a scoreless inning in time for the offense to go back to work.  This time it was doubles from Marco Scutaro, Pedroia, and Ortiz that brought in three runs to give the Sox a 5-4 lead.  One of my pet peeves is when the Red Sox have just plated some runs and then the pitcher gives them right back, but that’s exactly what happened.  No sooner had they taken the lead than Miller gave up two home runs and found his team down 7-5.  The first of the homers was hit by Alex Gordon, and it was caught by a guy in row 3 of Section 34 – five rows down and a couple of people over from where I was sitting.

The Royals bat against Andrew Miller as the sun sets over Fenway Park.

The Royals bat against Andrew Miller as the sun sets over Fenway Park.

The game was on a glacial pace, but with all the action it didn’t feel as long as it could have.  Still, the Red Sox were back at it again in the fourth, knocking Kansas City starter Danny Duffy from the game when he topped 100 pitches with one out in the inning.  Pedroia greeted the new pitcher with a single, leaving him a home run shy of the cycle with half the game left to play.  Later in the inning, a bases-loaded walk got the Red Sox to within a run.  While this was taking place, some people got the wave going (despite the efforts of the season ticket holders in the area who did their best to ignore it and, you know, actually watch the game) in the fourth inning, which has got to be some kind of a record.

The fifth took even longer, as the Red Sox sent 11 men to the plate, the first 8 of whom all reached safely before the first out was recorded.  One of them was Pedroia, but instead of completing the cycle he picked up a second single.  That loaded the bases, though, and Papi’s hit drove in two and gave him 5 RBI for the night.  By the end of the inning, the Sox had scored 6 more runs and taken a 12-7 lead.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the center field flag was blowing directly out for most of the night.

With all the offense, it shouldn't be a surprise that the center field flag was blowing directly out for most of the night.

In the sixth, Pedroia came up again, already 4-for-4 but still looking for a homer to complete the cycle.  He’s certainly capable of getting ahold of one and the wind was blowing favorably out to left, so I thought he had a legitimate chance, but he ended up walking.  When the sixth inning ended, the game was already at the 3-hour mark, and we could hear the street performer who uses buckets for drums just on the other side of the wall from where I was sitting.  He’s normally out there at the end of the game, but he was already setting up in the bottom of the sixth and provided a festive beat for the final three innings of the game.

I like this picture because it's artistic, but it probably needs a little explanation. My seat was up against the back wall of the bleachers, where the wall is vented with little slats that look down on the street below.  Looking through the chain-link fence and then through the slats, I could see the back of the three-dimensional BLEACHER BAR sign.  (The picture of the flag above also shows the fence and slats.)

I like this picture because it's artistic, but it probably needs a little explanation. My seat was up against the back wall of the bleachers, where the wall is vented with wooden slats that look down on the street below. Looking through the chain-link fence and then through the slats, I could see the back of the three-dimensional BLEACHER BAR sign. (The picture of the flag above and the screen shot from TV also show the fence and slats.)

Alfredo Aceves again did an admirable job out of the ‘pen, holding the Royals scoreless for 3 1/3 innings.  (He did hit a batter, and warnings were issued after the Royals retaliated by plunking Gonzalez.)  After a Jason Varitek homer extended the Red Sox’ lead, Matt Albers pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.  As we started singing “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth, some idiot jumped over the short right field fence and onto the field.  That’s never a good move, but it’s even dumber during “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the seventh or “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth, because security guards come out and ring the warning track.  Before I could even decide whether to capture the moment with my video camera (which shoots in HD but doesn’t zoom very far) or my still camera (which has a good zoom), he had already been tackled by security and was being led off the field.  (Fenway moment of the day:  When the security guy who had tackled the trespasser returned to his spot in right field, he got a big ovation.)

Between the singing and the commotion on the field, I didn’t even notice the announcement that the Royals had sent outfielder Mitch Maier in to pitch the eighth.  The first batter he faced was Pedroia, who had one last chance to hit for the cycle.  He worked a full count and then launched one toward the Green Monster.  We all held our collective breath, but it didn’t have enough and ended up being caught just at the base of The Wall.  Pedey didn’t get the cycle, but he did get a standing-O for his efforts as he walked back to the dugout.

A 13-7 lead is supposed to mean a night off for the closer, but when Franklin Morales let the first three batters of the ninth reach base, Jonathan Papelbon did have to get up and start warming (”Paps is warming up (sigh),” I noted in my scorecard).  Morales gave up two runs, but finally managed to get a double play and a strikeout to end the game.  It lasted almost four hours, but it was entertainment-packed and certainly had some of everything!

July 26, 2011 • Posted in: 2011 Games • Share on Facebook

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