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Trip to Sarasota

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 – Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota

Orioles 5, Red Sox 3

Wednesday brought the first night game of the spring, and a road trip to Sarasota.  We took advantage of the sunny day by driving up early and spending the afternoon at the beach on Siesta Key, a long beach with powdery white sand that’s one of my favorites in Florida.  After enjoying the 69° Gulf water, we made the short trip down the road to the stadium just as the gates were opening.  My first stop was to go down near the Red Sox dugout, and I managed to get autographs from Will Middlebrooks and recently-signed first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp.

The sun sets at Ed Smith Stadium just before the game.

The sun sets at Ed Smith Stadium just before the game.

Our seats were down the left field line beyond third base, only four rows back from the field.  It was fun to be so close to the action.  The bullpen was just beyond us, so anytime a player walked from the dugout to the bullpen, they had to walk right past us.  I actually liked Ed Smith Stadium, which was redone in 2010 when the Reds moved to Arizona and the Orioles came in from Ft. Lauderdale.  As non-Red Sox parks go, it was clean and new-looking, the food was decent, the people were friendly, and there was a minimum of between-innings gimmicks and phony sound effects.  My only complaints were that the announcer read the starting lineups too quickly, as if not expecting that people would be keeping score (they do that in Camden Yards, too) and that the scoreboard didn’t show the pitcher’s names or pitch speeds.

John Farrell brought most of his regulars with him on the road trip.

John Farrell brought most of his regulars with him on the road trip.

Unlike the home game we had been to yesterday, this game featured most of the regulars.  In fact, everyone who’s expected to be in the Opening Day starting lineup was there, except for David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, who haven’t been cleared for game action yet.  They were facing an Orioles split squad, so I had hopes of actually seeing a good game.  It wasn’t long, though, before we got a scare.  With two on and two out in the first, Will Middlebrooks swung and missed at the first pitch of his at-bat.  He immediately grabbed his wrist, the same one he’s rehabbing from a break last summer, and Red Sox Nation gasped.  He came out of the game – they certainly weren’t going to take any chances in Spring Training – but we didn’t know whether it was for precautionary reasons or something more serious.  It worries me, because if he’s not healthy, that could taint the whole season.  Pedro Ciriaco came in to finish the at-bat (grounding out to end the inning) and stayed in to play third base.

Koji Uehara threw a quick 12-pitch inning.

Koji Uehara follows through after a pitch. He threw a quick 12-pitch inning.

The deep Red Sox bullpen was on display from the start.  Franklin Morales breezed through the first, and Joel Hanrahan gave up a run (unearned due to two errors) in the second.  Koji Uehara had an impressive 1-2-3 third, and Andrew Bailey gave up a base hit but struck out two (with novice first baseman Daniel Nava making a nice catch of a foul popup that had him almost land in the photographers’ well for the other out).  In the fifth, with the Sox up 2-1 after an RBI single by Ciriaco and a towering homer by Jonny Gomes, Andrew Miller took the mound.  A two-out walk put Nolan Reimold on first, and then I finally got redemption for the horrible call that marred yesterday’s game.  Brian Roberts hit the ball between first and second, where it hit Reimold as he ran.  This time the umps actually called the play correctly, meaning Reimold was out and the inning was over.  (Little-known scoring fact: when the runner is hit by the batted ball and called out, the batter actually gets credit for a hit.)  It’s funny that I’d see a rare play like that – one that I don’t think I’d ever seen before – on two straight days.

Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch and stole a base.

Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch and stole a base.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill after that.  Junichi Tazawa gave up a 2-run homer (and he also balked) that gave the Orioles the lead, and then pitching prospect Drake Britton had a rough inning where they tacked on two more runs.  While the Sox never managed to catch up, there were two bright spots at the end of the game.  Pedro Ciriaco tripled in the top of the eighth (the right fielder bobbled it a bit, and I really wanted them to wave him around and try for the inside-the-parker, but they didn’t), and catcher Christian Vazquez threw out two baserunners (an attempted steal of second and a pickoff of the runner at third) in the bottom of the eighth.  But the best news was that by the time we got home, there were already reports that Middlebrooks’s injury was “right wrist soreness” and not as serious as we had feared.

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