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A Game of Inches

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Rangers 3, Red Sox 2

The Red Sox were on a roll.  in the past week, they had split a home-and-home series with the Phillies and then taken 2 of 3 in New York.  They were contending with Texas for the best record in the league, and when they returned home to face the Rangers, who had swept them in Texas in April, they made a statement by winning the first game 17-5.  The next night it was my turn again, and I was hopeful that my dismal record (4-4) would get back on the right side of .500.

If I had known Jonny Gomes and I were going to be dressed as twins, I would have worn my hat.

If I had known Jonny Gomes and I were going to be dressed as twins, I would have worn my hat.

I had seen online that this was going to be one of the games where fans could get their picture taken with a player before the game (though whoever writes these things up for the website is not paying attention, since it was listed as 5:30 – 6:00, even though the gates don’t open until 5:40 for a 7:10 game).  I left work earlier than usual to be sure that I was there in time, and I went right to the back of the souvenir store when the gates opened.  I was able to attend a couple of these sessions a few years ago, getting to meet Clay Buchholz, Daniel Nava, and Michael Bowden, and I know it’s usually one of the more obscure players, and certainly not someone who’s starting that night.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out the player was Jonny Gomes, and I got in the line for a picture.  In the past, the FanFoto people would hand us a voucher for a “free” printout.  We’d have to wait a few days for the photos to be loaded online, then order one (and pay 50¢ because the voucher never covered the right amount) and wait a few more days for it to arrive in the mail.  This time they were trying something different – no voucher, just go to the booth behind Section 7 and get a free printout.  At first this sounded worse, because I was afraid they would say to come back during the game, and how long was it going to take to get all the way over there and then rummage through everyone’s photo?  And without a voucher, I had no proof that I was even there.  It ended up being easy – they were ready at about 6:30, and displayed the thumbnails on a monitor, then found and printed mine quickly.  (Warning, though, that there’s always a catch.  Just before I got there, two women in front of me who were maybe sisters or friends, but clearly not from the same household, had each gotten their pictures taken individually with Jonny, but the girl printing them out was telling them that only one could be free and they’d have to pay for the other.  This is ridiculous – I could see it being the other way around, that if they had gotten in the picture together they could only get one free print – but it made no sense, and she wouldn’t budge.  I don’t know if they ever got it resolved – they were waiting to talk to her boss when I left – but the moral of the story is to have everyone in the party get in the shot together, or if it’s done individually to go up to the booth separately so they don’t know you’re together.)

Mike Napoli was on base three times via walks.

Mike Napoli reached base three times via walks.

John Lackey started the game off on the right foot.  He didn’t walk anyone all night, and  didn’t allow a hit until the third inning.  In the fourth, he gave up a solo homer to old friend Adrian Beltre (quick! everybody rub his head!) putting the Sox in a 1-0 hole.  It was frustrating that they couldn’t get anything done offensively with Lackey pitching so well.  Stephen Drew was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the third (John Farrell came out to argue to no avail) and then in the fourth Mike Carp hit a ball high off the center field wall that was inches from being a game-tying homer.  Instead, it was a double, and although he was able to go to third on a wild pitch, he ended up stranded.  My worst fear a day after they put up 17 runs is that they’ll lose 1-0, and that was right where they were headed.

It wasn’t until the sixth that things finally started looking up.  Dustin Pedroia smashed a home run off the light tower in left to tie the game.  It cracked me up that as he ran the bases, the long, narrow scoreboard in left center that normally shows batter/pitcher info switched to an extreme close-up of Pedroia’s eyes followed by a simple declaration: “PEDEY”.

Dustin Pedroia is feted on the scoreboard after a huge, game-tying home run.

Dustin Pedroia is fêted on the scoreboard after a huge, game-tying home run.

One of my baseball pet peeves is when the team rallies to score runs and then the pitcher gives it right back in the next inning.  Lackey had thrown 108 pitches, so Craig Breslow came in to start the seventh.  He promptly allowed a double and a walk, and then Koji Uehara gave up a double that drove in both inherited runners.  Just like that, they were down 3-1.

Jose Iglesias continued hit hot hitting at the plate.

Jose Iglesias played good defense at third base and continued his hot hitting at the plate.

I took advantage of the seventh inning stretch to move around from the bleachers to some newly-vacated seats in Section 15 for the rest of the game.  The first two batters reached base in the bottom of the seventh for the Sox, but they were stranded.  (Jonny Gomes came in as a pinch-hitter with two on and two out, and I thought for sure he was going to have a huge hit, but he ended up flying out to center.)  They did manage to rally in the eighth when Jarrod Salatalamacchia’s double drove in Mike Napoli after he had reached on his third walk of the day.  That made the score 3-2, but that’s all they were able to get and the day went down as another disappointing loss.  I kept going back to Carp’s hit off the wall that was less than a foot from being a homer and the close play at second with Drew.  If either of those had turned out differently, we’d at the very least be heading into extra innings.  The Red Sox ended up beating the Rangers the next night to take the series, but I was bummed that every time they had a good, productive 2-out-of-3 or 3-out-of-4 series, I always seemed to see the loss.

June 5, 2013 • Posted in: 2013 Games • Share on Facebook

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