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Papi Saves the Day

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 4, Rangers 2

With all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day, it doesn’t always feel like the season has really started until I make it to my second game.  But now that I’ve returned to Fenway five days later, it feels like baseball is back and part of my routine again.  I saw online that this was going to be one of the games where we could meet and get a picture with one of the players before the game.  With the game time at 4:05, I took the whole day off from work, so I was able to get there right when the gates opened at 2:35, and I found out that the player was infielder Jonathan Herrera.  The photo session was in the back of the souvenir store, and while the ones I had gone to last year had had short lines, by the time I got through Gate D, the line already stretched the length of the store.  In order to get everyone through as quickly as possible, they don’t allow us to take pictures with our own cameras.  They use the FanFoto service which normally charges $15 plus S&H for a 5×7 print.  I’ve done these sessions before and they usually give us a voucher with a promo code so we can get the print for free (except the voucher price is always 50 cents short, as if they don’t know that they raised their S&H price).  But this time they supposedly “ran out” of vouchers, even though this was the first player photo session of the season.  Instead they asked us to write down our email address so they could send us the promo code for the (almost) free print.  I haven’t gotten the email yet, and I’m not paying $20.  So until then, here’s an artist’s rendition of me meeting Jonathan Herrera:

I may never get the email with the promo code, but this artist's rendition shows what the picture of me with Jonathan Herrera looks like.

I may never get the promo code to order a free print of my picture with Jonathan Herrera, so this version will have to do.*

It was my friend’s first game of the year, so we walked around to look at some of the new things.  There’s a new bar behind the third base grandstand.  It has some big TV screens, but people who sit on the stools have their backs to the field.

New this year: this bar behind the third base grandstand.

New this year: this bar behind the third base grandstand.

We were in our familiar Tenth Man Plan seats behind the visitiors’ bullpen for the first time this year, and the afternoon was warm and sunny.  We can see the new board that shows the temperature from those seats. It was 56° to start the game, and with the sun I was comfortable in a long-sleeve T-shirt for the first 5 innings.

It was breezy enough that I was actually able to get a decent picture of the Championship flag.

It was breezy enough that I was actually able to get a decent picture of the Championship flag.

Jake Peavy had a couple of baserunners in the first, but he worked his way out of trouble, and then settled down and pitched really well.  He struck out eight, including the side in the fourth.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox, who haven’t exactly gotten their offense rolling yet in the young season, were able to piece together an unearned run after a throwing error in the third.  But they also hit into two double plays and had a runner caught stealing, and at the end of the sixth they clung to a 1-0 lead.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves, Jake Peavy, and David Ross head in after warming up.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves, Jake Peavy, and David Ross head in after warming up.

Peavy gave up a homer to Mitch Moreland leading off the seventh which tied the game.  His good outing was in danger of being wasted, and it got worse when Andrew Miller gave up a double to open the eighth.  The runner ended up moving to third on a groundout and scoring on a sac fly to shallow center.  Jackie Bradley Jr. made a pretty good throw home, but it was a little high and just a tad late, and the Red Sox now trailed 2-1.

The Sox were running out of chances when Bradley led off the eighth with his third walk of the day (the seventh overall for the team).  A.J. Pierzynski pinch-hit for Jonny Gomes and blooped a wind-blown hit into no man’s land down the right field line.  Grady Sizemore pinch-ran, and Dustin Pedroia hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Sizemore and moved Bradley to third.  As David Ortiz came to the plate, the Rangers went to the ‘pen to bring in a lefty, Neal Cotts, who had struck him out in all five prior meetings.  With one out and a runner on third, I was just hoping for a ball in the air, but Big Papi had other ideas.  He launched a 1-1 pitch out toward us in right field.  It was one of those swings where we could tell he had gotten all of it, and we all jumped up.  The only question was whether it would stay fair or hook foul.  I’ll admit I lost sight of it against the bright, cloudless sky, and it was so high that I wouldn’t have been able to tell from my angle in the bleachers where it was when it passed over Pesky’s Pole.  I actually looked away from the ball to turn back toward the infield, where I saw the umpire signal fair.  The three-run bomb gave the Sox a 4-2 lead, and we all high-fived each other as Papi rounded the bases.  (I tried to get a picture as he crossed the plate, but it came out blurry from all the jumping and cheering.  Don’t worry, I won’t do an artist’s depiction of that.  Just picture his classic pose that we’ve all seen more times than we can count.)

It's always sunny when Big Papi comes to the plate with a chance to do his thing.

It's always sunny when Big Papi comes to the plate with a chance to save the day.

Soon we realized Rangers manager Ron Washington had come out to ask for a review of the play.  With the new rules in effect this year, the umps need only don a headset and consult with MLB officials.  I was glad to see the replay shown on the scoreboard in center; in the past they haven’t been allowed to show replays of controversial calls, which has become sillier in recent years when half the ballpark can see monitors carrying the TV feed of the game.  Now we all get to see it, and there was no way to conclusively reverse it, so when Mike Napoli’s at-bat began we knew that they had let the call on the field stand.  After that it was Koji Time, and Uehara had a quick, clean inning to dispose of the Rangers and preserve the win.

*Update: I did in fact receive an email with the promo code, and it covered the whole cost of a 5×7 print, including shipping.  Here’s the picture – I really think I nailed it with my drawing, don’t you?

My long awaited photo with Jonathan Herrera.

My long awaited photo with Jonathan Herrera.

April 9, 2014 • Posted in: 2014 Games • Share on Facebook

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