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The Boys of Winter

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – Fenway Park, Section 42

Red Sox 7, Rays 4

Even with May approaching, the weather wasn’t feeling any more baseball-like.  While it was going to warm up later in the week, Tuesday was cold and raw, with highs not getting out of the 40’s.  This game was in the four-game “Sox Pax” I had gotten because it included Opening Day, so I was going to be a few rows from the back of the bleachers again, and I knew how windy it had been up there the first time.  So this time I went with my heavy winter coat along with my normal Red Sox hat and gloves.  The temperature was announced as 42°, with the wind chill at 38° according to my phone.  I started in the bleacher seat, but I was keeping an eye on the grandstand sections that would be less windy, planning to move around closer when I couldn’t stand it anymore.

View from the wind tunnel at the back of the bleachers.

View from the wind tunnel at the back of the bleachers.

At least the game was a good one to watch.  John Lackey had become the Sox’ most consistent starter, and he continued his dominance tonight.  A two-out single in the second was the only baserunner he allowed through the first four frames.  For their part, the Red Sox had baserunners in each of the first four innings, but as has become the norm in the early season, they weren’t able to get any runs across.

John Lackey went eight strong innings.

John Lackey went eight strong innings.

The fifth inning started with promise, when a walk was followed by Jackie Bradley Jr.’s double.  And finally they got on the board on Shane Victorino’s sacrifice fly. Unfortunately the Rays answered back with a sac fly of their own in the top of the sixth.  I was starting to get really cold, and I could see empty box seats in the infield.  It was going to take a long time to walk around, and I didn’t want to miss the Red Sox batting, so I planned to go as soon as the sixth was over.  That of course meant that the pace of the game was about to slow down considerably, though I certainly wasn’t going to complain about the reason.

Mike Napoli has his beard to keep him warm...

Mike Napoli has his beard to keep him warm...

...but Rays first baseman James Loney had to borrow his outfit from a bank robber.

...but Rays first baseman James Loney had to borrow his outfit from a bank robber.

Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes walked, and Xander Bogaerts worked a full count before flying out.  Then after a pitching change, A.J. Pierzynski singled in a run and Will Middlebrooks doubled in another.  JBJ’s second double of the night plated two more, and finally Victorino’s double down the right field line (the third of his four hits) knocked in the fifth run of the inning.  As soon as Big Papi struck out to end the inning, I headed down from my seat.  In the top of the seventh, I settled in the Section 23 grandstand, and for the eighth I moved down to the field box seats right behind the on-deck circle.  Usually by the time I move around to good seats, it’s the relievers that I get to see up close, but Lackey was still in the game, as he ended up going eight innings.  It was warmer there too, and I was able to take off my hood and my gloves.

Jackie Bradley Jr. steps to the plate to lead off the eighth, as the fans finish up "Sweet Caroline".  JBJ had 2 doubles and 2 RBIs on the day.

Jackie Bradley Jr. steps to the plate to lead off the eighth, as the fans finish up "Sweet Caroline". JBJ had 2 doubles and 2 RBIs on the day.

Edward Mujica came in for the ninth with the Sox holding a 7-2 lead.  But the Rays opened the inning with a double and a walk, and then with one out, Bogaerts’s throwing error on a ground ball let two runs come in.  The comfortable lead had somehow turned into a game with the tying run on deck, making it a save situation.  John Farrell signaled to the bullpen, and with two outs, Koji Uehara was on his way in.  We stood up to clap along with his entrance music, and a guy near me yelled to Ben Zobrist in the on-deck circle, “Three pitches, Zobrist, that’s all you’re getting!  Three pitches and it’s ovah!”  The first pitch was a swing and a miss for strike one.  The second pitch was another whiff.  And just as predicted, the third pitch finished up the strikeout and closed out the win.

When Koji Uehara's not busy closing out baseball games, he practices karate moves.

When Koji Uehara's not busy closing out baseball games, he practices karate moves.

As we walked down to the T station after the game, we saw the flashing lights of a fire engine down Beacon Street from Kenmore Square.  A guy behind me shouted out, “Koji already put out the fire!  You guys are late!”

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