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Unde-pen-dable

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Rangers 6, Red Sox 3

The opening homestand started off well, with the Red Sox taking 3 of 4 from the Tampa Bay Rays.  Now last year’s A.L. Champion Texas Rangers were in town, and I was heading in for the first game of the year in my 10th Man Plan.  Because it was school vacation week, traffic into Boston was light, and I got to Fenway earlier than I thought I would.  That gave me time to explore the park, on the lookout for more of the 100 plaques, displays, and historical markers that have been featured on the TV broadcasts every night.  I did find several more, including the Gate A Staircase, the Auxiliary Press Box, and the Laundry Building.  I also looked at the inscribed bricks and the concrete casts of star players’ handprints in the Big Concourse between Gates B and C.  I love that Tim Wakefield’s handprints show his fingers in knuckleball-gripping position.

Find Tim Wakefield's hand prints inside Gate C.

Tim Wakefield's handprints can be found inside Gate C.

Before heading to my seats, I stopped by the bullpen to watch Josh Beckett warm up.

I love how this picture turned out, even though it was just an accident because I hadn't put my camera on its night setting yet.

I love how this picture turned out, even though it was just an accident because I hadn't put my camera on its night setting yet.

Beckett had another good outing.  He got smoothly through the first and second, and then a 2-run blast by Kevin Youkilis in the bottom of the inning gave the Sox an early lead.  Youk has gotten off to a slow start, so it was nice to see him crush one over the Monster to the deepest part of left-center.  The Rangers strung together a walk, a hit where the runner was thrown out at second trying to stretch it, and an infield hit to pick up a cheesy run in the third.  The big blow came in the fourth, a 2-run shot by Mike Napoli, who’s been a Red Sox-killer ever since his days with the Angels, which gave Texas a 3-2 lead.

A nice sunset proved that not everything about the game was ugly.

A nice sunset proved that not everything about the game was ugly.

The score was still 3-2 when Beckett finished his 7 innings of work, and I wasn’t giving up hope that the Sox could somehow scrape together a couple of runs against the Rangers’ bullpen.  However, it didn’t take long until our own ‘pen became the perpetrators.  Franklin Morales started the eighth with an out, but then gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases.  He hit the next batter to force in a run, and then gave up a 2-run double to – who else – Mike Napoli.  With the game now out of reach, he walked another batter to re-load the bases, before Bobby Valentine finally gave him the hook.  Matt Albers managed to get out of the inning with a double play, but by then the damage had been done.

Pedroia leaps but can't catch a 2-run double off the bat of Mike Napoli, as Franklin Morales turns to see where his patest pitch is going to end up.

Pedroia leaps but can't catch a 2-run double off the bat of Mike Napoli, as Franklin Morales turns to see where his latest pitch is going to end up.

The Red Sox did manage to score a run in the bottom of the ninth on a walk, an error, and a pinch-hit RBI single by Ryan Sweeney, which only served to underscore how frustrating it was that the bullpen implosion had cost them the game.

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