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Boston Strong

Sunday, April 21, 2013 – Fenway Park, Section 32

Royals 4, Red Sox 2

It had only been a week since my last trip to Fenway, but it was a very emotional week.  It started on Monday with an exciting walk-off win in the Patriot’s Day matinee, but less than an hour later two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston marathon, killing three and seriously injuring hundreds others – a horrific attack on the city during one of its uniquely iconic events.  As the news unfolded, the Sox headed out on a road trip to Cleveland, where they swept the Indians.  When they returned home on Friday, Boston and several surrounding towns were under lockdown, while the manhunt for the bombing suspect continued throughout the day and into the night.  The game was postponed Friday night, and the schedule for the rest of the weekend was up in the air until the bomber was taken into custody.  On Saturday, the Red Sox played their first home game since the attack, and they held an emotional ceremony hon0ring the victims, first responders, and law enforcement who were involved.  It was capped by a heartfelt speech by Big Papi, who returned from the D.L. to play in his first game of the year and declared, “This is our [bleeping] city, and nobody’s gonna dictate our freedom.”  The Sox were spurred on to a dramatic come-from-behind win, their seventh straight victory.

The B Strong logo was painted on the Green Monster to show support after the marathon bombings.

The B Strong logo was added to the Green Monster to show support after the marathon bombings.

I personally became grateful that my company doesn’t give us Patriot’s Day off, because if they did I probably would have been at that game.  The fact that the Red Sox game is played at 11:00 am so that fans can walk the mile or so up the street after the game to see the runners crossing the finish line is one of Boston’s special traditions, and I’ve always wanted to be part of it.  But because I don’t get that day as a holiday, and because I always use a vacation day for Opening Day a week or so before, I’ve never been able to go, and luckily I wasn’t in the city that day.  Now I was headed in to Sunday afternoon’s game, which ended up being the first game of a doubleheader, with Friday’s postponement being made up at night.

Will Middlebrooks and his teammates wore uniforms with "Boston" across the front instead of "Red Sox", like they had done in Saturday's game.

Will Middlebrooks and his teammates wore uniforms with "Boston" across the front instead of "Red Sox", like they had done in Saturday's game.

I decided to take the T rather than drive around looking for a space at a meter, and I went in early through the Red Sox Nation line.  There was no batting practice, but the pitchers were long-tossing in the outfield.  I noticed a new sign at the base of Pesky’s Pole in right field: “Out of respect, please refrain from writing on Pesky’s Pole.”  The foul pole still has the players’ signatures from the touching tribute the team held after Johnny Pesky’s passing last year, and they want to preserve them, but I wish they had put a sign like that up years ago because it always bothered me that every random person who got seats in that section thought they were entitled to deface a treasured part of the park.

Mike Napoli awaits the throw as Alex Gordon dives back to the bag.

Mike Napoli awaits the throw as Alex Gordon dives back to the bag.

My seat today was in the left field grandstand, a section I chose because I was sick of always getting rained on in the bleachers during cold April games.  So of course that meant it was a nice sunny afternoon, and while I was freezing in the shade of the grandstand it probably would have been pleasant out in the sun.  (I also had a pole blocking my view of home plate, but I was able to slide down to some empty seats in the row that no one ever came for.)  Trouble started right away for the Red Sox, when Ryan Dempster gave up a homer to the second batter of the game.  But the Red Sox answered in the home half, with David Ortiz and Mike Napoli driving in runs.

This is our DH, from our city, and he's doing his part to raise our team batting average by going 3-for-4 on the day.

This is our {bleeping} DH, in our {bleeping} city, and he's doing his part to raise our {bleeping} team batting average by going 3-for-4 on the day.

Everything was fine until the fourth, when the Royals opened the inning with three straight hits to tie the game.  Dempster struck out the next two batters and looked like he was going to get out of it, but Salvador Perez hit a two-run single to give Kansas City the lead.  The Red Sox offense did a whole lot of nothing against Ervin Santana for the next few innings, with the only baserunner from the third through the seventh coming on Big Papi’s sixth inning double.

Rookie Alex Wilson pitched the ninth.

Rookie Alex Wilson pitched the ninth.

At the end of the seventh, I moved down to the vacated box seats closer to the plate, and by the ninth I was in the second row behind the visiting team’s on-deck circle.  The Red Sox put together two singles and a walk to load the bases with two outs in the eighth, but they didn’t end up scoring.  With Alex Wilson on the mound in the ninth, the first two Royals singled.  The next batter hit a grounder to Will Middlebrooks at third.  He stepped on the bag to retire one runner, then threw to Dustin Pedroia at second for out number 2.  Pedey spun and threw on to first, where the runner just beat out the throw, thwarting the potential for a triple play.  While it ended up a 5-4 double play, it was fun to watch it unfold from up close in the second row.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of time in that seat, as the Red Sox went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

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