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Wednesday, October 2, 2013 – Fenway Park

Red Sox 1, Red Sox 0

Fenway Park hosts an intra-squad game as the team waits for the playoffs to start. I'm pretty sure the Red Sox are going to win today!

Fenway Park hosts an intra-squad game as the team waits for the playoffs to start. I'm pretty sure the Red Sox are going to win today!

With the Red Sox capturing the #1 American League seed for the postseason, they had four days between the end of the regular season and the start of the Division Series.  While we watched the wild card playoff games to see who their opponent would be, the team held a series of workouts over the week to keep the players fresh.  It was a pleasant surprise when they announced on Tuesday that Wednesday’s workout and intra-squad game would be open to the public.  A quick check of my calendar at work found no meetings and no major implementations on the docket, so I put in for a half-day off and planned to go check it out.  It was even cooler when I got an email from the season ticket office saying that any Season Ticket Holder, including those with my Tenth Man Plan, could sit in the EMC Club and enjoy complimentary ballpark fare and non-alcoholic beverages.

This picture isn't photo-shopped - the gray blob in the corner is the baseball.  But it shows how the shadows are going to be when the Sox take the field for their first game at 3:07 pm on Friday.  The pitcher's mound is still in bright sun, but the ball is already in the shadows.

This picture of Clay Buchholz isn't photo-shopped - that gray blob in the corner is the baseball. But it shows how the shadows are going to be when the Sox take the field for their first game at 3:07 pm on Friday. The pitcher's mound is still in bright sun, but the ball is already in the shadows.

I arrived just after the gates opened at 2:00 and went straight to the EMC Club.  The Sox were taking batting practice on the field.  I jumped in the food line first, and enjoyed a footlong hot dog, pretzel, cracker jacks, and bottled water, all free, as I watched B.P.  (They also had popcorn, and a cash bar for beer.)

The game itself was scheduled to start at 3:07 pm, to simulate the conditions that are going to be in effect when they play their first game at that time on Friday.  The shadows falling between the plate and the mound can make it tricky for hitters to see the ball coming out of the pitchers’ hands, and the glare of the sun sinking toward the horizon over third base can make it hard for the outfielders to pick up fly balls.

The day started with several rounds of B.P.

The day started with several rounds of B.P.

For the game, they were split up into two teams, one wearing their red alternate jerseys and the other wearing their blue road alternate jerseys.  Since Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy are scheduled to pitch Games 3 and 4 of the series next Monday and Tuesday, they needed to get some work in now, so they were the scheduled starters.  I normally keep score when I go to games, even when they play the college teams or an unofficial “B” game in Spring Training, but even I had my limits.  However, I couldn’t help myself from “writing down” some notes on my phone and sending emails to my parents as I watched.  I’ll let those emails tell the story.

3:08 - Peavy is warming up in the visitors’ bullpen.  They have Dick Flavin announcing (”Welcome to Fenway Park for today’s game between the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Red Sox”) and 2 umpires.  For some reason Slugger (mascot of the Double-A affiliate Sea Dogs) is here.

Blue team: Peavy, Ross, McDonald, Britton, Morales, Bradley, Berry, Salty, Carp, Bogaerts, Snyder.

Red team: Buchholz, Napoli, Pedroia, Middlebrooks, Drew, Workman, Breslow, Papi, Lackey, Doubront, Ellsbury, Victorino, Nava, Lavarnway.

Once the game started, the teams all sat in the home dugout together and used just the home bullpen.  The unseasonably warm weather (almost 80° in Boston) and loose interpretation of the rules gave it an informal feel of Spring Training.

David Ross had a busy day. He started off as DH, then played first base in the top of the seventh, and even made a coaching visit to the mound.

David Ross had a busy day. He started off as DH, then played first base in the top of the seventh, and even made a coaching visit to the mound.

3:19 – Glad I’m not scoring! Berry is wearing blue but played CF for the red team.  Now he’s moving to RF as Bradley plays CF for blue.  Also the blue team was announced with 2 DHs – Salty and Ross.  Lavarnway caught for the red team.  Mani Martinez, the bullpen catcher, is catching for blue.  This is even better than the “B” Game!

3:22 – Blue team scored a run in the 1st.  Bradley singled, was bunted over by Ells, and scored on a 2B by Salty.  A guy was yelling, “Go for 3!”  Yeah, right!

Our reaction as fans was pretty much to cheer every play.  Batter got a hit?  Yay!  Pitcher struck a guy out?  Yay to that too!

3:25 – Peavy struck out Pedey and Papi.

At the end of the second, I left the EMC Club and went down to the stands.  I wanted to get closer so I could take better pictures.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in the only run of the game.  He also played third base for half an inning.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in the only run of the game. He also played third base for half an inning.

3:42 – And now Berry, who has been playing in the field for both teams, is on deck.  Some red guy is in RF.

The red guy was probably Victorino, who had been playing right field during the half-innings when Berry was in center.  But after a while, most of the starters came out and it was down to just the same batters (Nava, Lavarnway, and McDonald seemed to always be up) over and over in the final couple of innings.

4:01 – Lackey, wearing red, just pitched for blue.  Now Dempster is wearing blue and pitching for red.  The fashion police would not be pleased.

Berry, back in RF, made a diving catch to rob Pedey.  Careful!  Don’t get hurt!

Felix Doubront got to pitch an inning. Does that mean he'll get the nod over Matt Thornton as the final reliever on the roster?

Felix Doubront got to pitch an inning. Does that mean he'll get the nod over Matt Thornton as the final reliever on the roster?

4:19 – 5th inning (Breslow pitching) ended with only 2 outs after a walk because he had thrown enough pitches.  The clue was that after a while there was no on-deck batter.  I’m in the 2nd row now, 3B side of the plate.

It was also interesting that instead of the pitching coach or manager visiting the mound during the inning, David Ross went out to talk to Breslow.

4:25 – Also Papi gets to wear his earrings.  Bradley just got a hit off Koji.

Big Papi normally can't wear bling in a game. But he could today!

Big Papi normally can't wear bling in a game. But he could today!

4:47 – Top 7.  Salty playing 3B.  Ross at 1B.

Well, I hadn’t seen this one coming.  Let’s see what our DHing catchers can do at other positions.  As they first took the field, when the infielders normally toss the ball around between innings, they were rolling it to those two instead of throwing.  (They each missed one of the practice grounders.)  During the inning, nothing came out to either one of them, so we didn’t get to see them in action.

4:51 – Game over in mid 7.  They’re playing Dirty Water.  “Red Sox win” on scoreboard, LOL.  Blue team won 1-0.

I knew they weren’t planning on playing a full nine innings, and that the public part ended at 5:00, so I wasn’t surprised when it ended abruptly.  The players looked around for a second as if asking, “Are we supposed to high-five each other?  (And if so, who?)” and then headed for the dugout as we sent them off with a cheer.

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