Futures At Fenway
Saturday, August 20, 2011 – Fenway Park, Section 32
Game 1 – Mets 6, Sea Dogs 4, 11 inn.
With the Red Sox on the road in Kansas City, Fenway Park played host to what is now an annual event, the Futures at Fenway minor league doubleheader. It was my first time attending this event, and I was met by a friend and his 9- and 7-year-old sons, who were making their first trip to Fenway. In a strange twist, it was a gorgeous, sunny day, but I’m sure that’s only because it was one of the few games where my seat was under cover.
The first game pitted the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs against the Binghamton Mets. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger made the start, and despite allowing baserunners in every inning, he held the Mets scoreless through the first six frames. The Sea Dogs were equally silent at the plate, with Alex Hassan’s two singles accounting for half his team’s hits in the first six innings. Hassan, an outfielder, is originally from Milton, MA, and grew up a Red Sox fan. We were sitting in left field, and I remarked to my friend how cool it must be for a kid who grew up outside of Boston to be here playing left field at Fenway. No sooner had I made that comment, than a Binghamton player lined a hit off the Green Monster. Hassan fielded it perfectly and got it back to the infield in time to hold the runner to a single. My friend and I turned and almost in unison said, “And he knows how to play the Monster!”
Haeger started to tire in the seventh when he issued three walks and a wild pitch, and he was further hurt by two errors. That plated two runs for the Mets, and it brought Josh Fields in from the ‘pen. Fields had been acquired at the trade deadline in the three-team deal that brought Erik Bedard to Boston. He got out of the inning without any more damage, and stayed in to throw a scoreless eighth and ninth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Hassan continued his memorable afternoon by launching a two-run homer high over the wall in straightaway center field. That tied the game at 2, and when the Sea Dogs couldn’t get anything done in the bottom of the ninth, the game headed to extra innings. Neither team scored in the tenth, and I got to point out to the kids that the manual scoreboard on the Green Monster only has enough columns for 10 innings, and when they go beyond that they have to take all the numbers out and put the 11th inning linescore under the “1″. (Both kids are so well-versed in Fenway history that this was the only new fact I was able to impart that day.)
With reliever Chris Martin into his second inning of work, the Mets ended up putting together three singles and a homer to score four runs in the top of the eleventh. The Sea Dogs did finally get a rally going in the bottom of the eleventh, when Jonathan Hee’s single knocked in two runs, but it was too little, too late.
Game 2 – Chiefs 3, PawSox 1
Between innings we walked around the concourse to show the kids some of the historical displays, and then got something to eat. Game 2 featured the Triple-A PawSox and the Washington Nationals’ affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs. Much to the 9-year-old’s chagrin, the Pawtucket starter was Kyle Weiland. He’s been to several PawSox games this year, and almost all of them started with Weiland and all but one had ended in a loss. This one started off on a much better note, with Daniel Nava lining a solo homer into the bullpen in the first inning.
Besides Nava and Weiland, there were several other PawSox players whom I had seen play at Fenway before. Lars Anderson and Ryan Kalish had seen time last year, with Jose Iglesias making his debut earlier this year. Relievers Tommy Hottovy and Michael Bowden had also pitched in Boston before.
Weiland wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t exactly sharp either. He had a lot of baserunners, and the Chiefs pushed across solo runs in the second, fifth, and sixth innings, before Jason Rice came on in relief. At the plate, the PawSox couldn’t get anything going – or rather, every time they got something going, they got in their own way. Three runners were caught stealing, and one was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. They also hit into three double plays.
As the evening wore on, we stayed in our seats in left field, until eventually we were the only people left in that section. The usher even came over and made a joke that we must have fogotten to shower this morning since no one was sitting near us. But we stuck it out, enjoying 20 innings of baseball on a warm day at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. The 9-year-old kept score for both games, just like me (and I only had to cheat off his scorecard a couple of times). The 7-year-old spent the whole second game with his father’s camera, and wound up with over 300 pictures, also just like me. Despite the fact that the PawSox never did come up with any additional offense, ending the day with two losses, a good time was had by all.