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The Blind Side

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Cardinals 15, Red Sox 4

On Tuesday the Red Sox finally had a home game, which meant my first game of the year at JetBlue Park.  We went in when the gates opened, two hours before game time, and I went down to left field beyond the Red Sox dugout in the hopes that we could get some players to come over and sign.  The Cardinals were already taking batting practice, and there were no Red Sox players to be found.  I waited there until just before the game started, when the players finally came out to stretch.  We were able to call Jonathan Diaz – the non-roster invitee to big league camp who was playing second today – over for autographs, but he’s the only one who obliged.

Jonathan Diaz signs autographs before the game.

Jonathan Diaz signs autographs before the game.

I know that not many of the veteran players are asked to take long road trips, so I expected that with a home game we’d get a chance to see more of the regulars, but that wasn’t the case.  The lineup looked like a page out of the PawSox (or maybe the Greenville Drive) scorecard: Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, Daniel Nava in left, Ryan Lavarnway catching, Mike Carp as DH, Mauro Gomez at first, Ryan Sweeney in right, Drew Sutton at third, Jose Iglesias at short, and my new favorite Jonathan Diaz at second.  At least we had Ryan Dempster on the mound, and he did not disappoint.

Ryan Dempster had a good outing.

Ryan Dempster had a good outing.

Dempster pitched the first two innings, and the only baserunner he allowed reached on an error (by Diaz, of all people).  In the third, Clayton Mortensen let the Cardinals load the bases and then gave up a three-run double.  He settled down in his second inning of work, an 11-pitch inning that included two strikeouts.  The only other bright spot on the pitching side was Alex Wilson’s 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.  After that, it was all downhill.  Jose De La Torre gave up 5 runs in the sixth, on 4 hits, a walk, and another Diaz error.  Pedro Beato couldn’t even make it through the seventh – he got the hook after one out and was charged with 4 runs.  Anthony Carter gave up 3 more in the eighth (although technically those were unearned thanks to the Sox’ third error of the day).  And in the ninth, Oscar Villarreal put two runners in scoring position before getting out of it.

Don't let the pictures fool you - there was nothing pretty about today's game.

Don't let the pictures fool you - there was nothing pretty about today's game.

But the worst play took place in the seventh.  There were runners at first and second with one out and a run already in, when Ronny Cedeño hit a grounder toward second base.  Diaz looked lined up to field it, and I hoped for a double play, but it hit the runner who had been on first and changed direction, rolling instead to the second base bag where Diaz finally chased it down.  In the stands we all gasped as the batted ball hit the baserunner, pleasantly surprised at our good fortune: “Wait, it hit him!”  “Ha, he’s out!”  We all know that obscure rule, though I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually seen it happen before.  Except… the umps apparently still haven’t seen it.  They didn’t call the baserunner out, and somehow he had made it all the way over to third, while the runner on second had scored.  I couldn’t believe it!  The ball had quite obviously changed direction and everything.  The umps conferred, and somehow, inconceivably, they didn’t change the ruling.  John Farrell came out to argue.  He must have felt silly, arguing a play in a spring training game, but it was so obvious I just couldn’t understand how all four umps had missed it.  (The runner who should have been out ended up scoring later in the inning, so if they had gotten it right… we could have lost 14-4 instead of 15-4. So I guess it’s just the principle of the thing that bugs me.)

Jose Iglesias's double was one of the lone bright spots in the game.

Jose Iglesias's double was one of the lone bright spots in the game.

The Red Sox did manage to mount a little rally in the bottom of the ninth.  With a runner on third after a St. Louis error and a passed ball, Lyle Overbay tripled and Mark Hamilton doubled to score two runs.  Earlier in the game, Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway each had a double, and Drew Sutton reached base all three times he batted, but that was about it for offense.  Tomorrow they hit the road for Sarasota to take on the Orioles, hopefully with a few more major leaguers in the lineup and a lot more success on the field.

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