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Felix? No Such Luck

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Twins 15, Red Sox 8

It was almost two weeks since my last trip to Fenway.  The Red Sox went 6-5 over that time, including a road trip to Toronto and Texas.  Since I had tickets for games on two straight nights, I decided to take both days off from work.  That would allow me to go in early to see batting practice, which I don’t normally get to do, and then sleep in the next morning if the game went late.  The only problem, of course, was my usual one – there was rain in the forecast for both days (with the rest of the week naturally being sunny and unseasonably warm).  When I got to the park, the tarp was on the field and there was no B.P., but fortunately the rain let up as gametime approached.

Allen Webster warms up in th bullpen before making his second major league start.

Allen Webster warms up in the bullpen before making his second major league start.

Felix Doubront had struggled in his last start, and with his velocity down there was speculation of a dead arm.  That raised questions of how long the Red Sox could afford to stick with him in the rotation, but with both closers – Andew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan – going on the D.L. on consecutive days, and the other relievers all moving up a spot, there weren’t a lot of extra pitchers who could take his place right now, so I didn’t get my hopes up.  But then Tuesday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to hear that promising young prospect Allen Webster would be making the start on Wednesday, with Doubront shifting to the ‘pen for the next few days.  Webster had made one start for the Sox earlier in the year, an impressive 6-inning, 2-run outing against the Royals, but other than that the 23-year-old hadn’t pitched above Double A until this year.

Look! We're ahead 51-47!  Oh, no, wait... never mind. It only feels like 98 runs have crossed the plate.

Look! We're ahead 51-47! Oh, no, wait... never mind. It only *feels* like 98 runs have crossed the plate.

Webster struck out the first batter and I said, “See? He’s the real deal! A future #1 starter.”  The emphasis quickly became “future”, because it was soon apparent that was not going to be occurring tonight.  The next two batters walked, and then came a double, a sac fly, a homer, and an infield single off Webster’s foot, before he finally got a strikeout to end the 4-run inning.

Not to worry, though, because the Red Sox offense went right to work against Pedro Hernandez in the bottom of the inning to bail Webster out.  Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia singled, and Mike Napoli walked, to load the bases with two outs.  That brought up Jonny Gomes, and while we were discussing his low batting average, I added, “But when he gets a hold of one…” and before I could finish he got a hold of one and launched it over everything in left for the grand slam, tying the game.  To make things even better, the Sox tacked on another run on hits by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew, giving them a 5-4 lead.

The bat Jonny Gomes used to hit his first inning grand slam is so magical he doesn't even have to carry it to home plate.

The bat Jonny Gomes used to hit his first inning grand slam is so magical he doesn't even have to carry it to home plate.

I hoped Webster would settle down now that the first inning was over and the Sox had taken the lead, but I didn’t even have time to make that prediction out loud, before #9 hitter Pedro Florimon hit a homer leading off the second to tie the game.  And the Twins didn’t stop there.  They sent 11 men to the plate, knocking Webster from the game and continuing the onslaught against Doubront when he entered in relief.  By the time Florimon picked up his second extra-base hit of the inning (a double that drove in 2 runs) the Twins were up 11-5.  Certainly not what I had been looking forward to seeing.

I saw a lot of Felix Doubront, as he threw over 100 pitches in relief.

I saw a lot of Felix Doubront, as he threw over 100 pitches in relief.

At the end of the fifth, there were already enough empty seats that we were able to move around from our original seats in the bleachers over to the infield.  We started in the grandstand seats in Section 15, then at the end of the sixth moved down to the field box seats in the front of the section.  And when a really tall guy came and sat down right in front of me in the top of the eighth, we moved down to the second row behind the Red Sox dugout.  If I had to watch a pathetic mess of a game like this one, at least it could be from the good seats!

Our view of the final few innings, from right behind the Red Sox dugout.

Our view of the final few innings, from right behind the Red Sox dugout.

Doubront ended up going 5-1/3 innings and giving up 6 runs (but only 3 of them after his first inning of work).  He settled down as the game wore on, and his outing ended with a cool play.  There were runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, when Ryan Doumit hit a fly to deep center field.  Jacoby Ellsbury went back to the wall, and at first it looked like he had made a good catch, but what really happened (as we saw on the replay) was it bounced out of his glove, off the wall, then back into his glove – making it not a catch.  He threw the ball back to the infield, where both runners were standing on second.  There was a brief rundown during which one guy was tagged, and then Mike Napoli chased down and tagged the final baserunner (who may or may not already have been out) as he headed back toward the dugout.  At first we wondered if we had just seen a triple play, but a quick glance at my scorecard reminded me that there had already been one out.  It wasn’t till I got home and watched on the DVR (rewinding a couple of times in the process) that I was able to sort it all out, though it didn’t help that they were confused on the broadcast.  One of the baserunners had actually passed the other on the basepaths, so he was technically out without needing to be tagged.  It all ended up as just your normal average 8-6-4-3 double play.  I think.

It's just another day at the office for dirt dog Dustin Pedroia.

It's just another day at the office for dirt dog Dustin Pedroia.

Once the rout was on, it became all about taking whatever positives we could out of the game.  The biggest cheers went up when the Bruins’ playoff game went final, but there were actually a couple of good things in the baseball game.  Andrew Miller struck out the side in a 1-2-3 eighth.  Shane Victorino had a homer and 2 RBI.  Dustin Pedroia had 3 hits.  Gomes picked up his fifth RBI with a sac fly in the seventh.  In fact, the only Red Sox starters who didn’t reach base at least twice were Jacoby Ellsbury (one walk) and David Ortiz (0-for-5).  Unfortunately that snapped Papi’s 27-game hitting streak that went back to last year.  I did like that the people around us who had stayed till the end were real fans who knew that his streak was on the line.  Some were chanting, “Let’s go, hitting streak!” and we all gave him a nice hand when he walked back to the dugout after ending it with a strikeout.  I suppose the only really good thing to come out of this game was the knowledge that I’d get to come back tomorrow and start over.

May 8, 2013 • Posted in: 2013 Games • Share on Facebook

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