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Gone With The Wind

Sunday, May 4, 2014 – Fenway Park, Section 43

A’s 3, Red Sox 2, 10 inn.

The Red Sox were still stuck in their slow start, but none of the other teams in the A.L. East were running away with it either, and they came into Sunday’s game only 2 games back in the division.  They looked to be getting back on track as they took the first two games against the A’s, hitting a grand slam in each game, and a win today would get their record back to .500.  This was my first Sunday game of the year, so it was my first chance to drive in early, park for free on the street, and go in with the Red Sox Nation line before the gates opened.  I guess I didn’t leave as early as I should have with all the area schools still in session, because when I got there, there weren’t any open spaces on Comm. Ave. where I normally park.  I wound up going a few miles down the road to find an empty meter, and then hopped on the T to get back to Kenmore.  By that time, the Red Sox Nation line had already gone in, and I was stuck in line behind hundreds of little leaguers who also got to enter early for a ceremony before the game.  While they all milled about in the concourse, I went up on the Green Monster to watch what was left of batting practice.  The Red Sox don’t usually take B.P. on Sunday afternoons, and Shane Victorino was the only one I saw batting, with just the coaches in the outfield shagging flies.

When the A's started their batting practice, I went down from the Green Monster.

When the A's started their batting practice, I went down from the Green Monster. Here's the view from center field.

When the rest of the gates opened, I went around behind home plate.  There’s a new mural on the way to the home plate box seats with the front page of the Boston Globe from the day after each of the team’s eight World Championships.  The other times I’ve been by there this year, it’s been too crowded to get a good picture.  Remember in 2012 when the Red Sox announced that for Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary, they had 100 plaques, displays, and historical markers around the park?  I documented 96 of those displays that year (the rest are in areas off-limits to fans) and I’ve been keeping track of new displays ever since.  So I am now able to add this display to the list (see the whole album on Flickr), at number 105.

This mural showing the front page of the Boston Globe the day after each world Series win is new this year.

This mural showing the front page of the Boston Globe the day after each world Series win is new this year.

The Little League kids got to parade around the warning track with their teams before the game, and most were wearing their uniforms.  When I went down behind the bullpen to watch as John Lackey warmed up, there was a kid near me who happened to play for his town’s A’s team, and was wearing the unfortunate green and gold of today’s big league opponents.  He was obviously a Red Sox fan, as he knew who Lackey and A.J. Pierzynski were without an adult having to point it out, but when he got pitching coach Juan Nieves’s attention, Nieves pointed disapprovingly at his hat.  The poor kid was mortified, and tried yelling, “But it’s my Little League team,” but Nieves had already looked away.  He quickly borrowed his father’s Red Sox hat, and was later able to call out to Nieves agin, this time getting a thumbs-up.

John Lackey had another good outing.

John Lackey had another good outing.

Lackey’s first pitch of the game was grounded to third by Coco Crisp.  It bounced off Will Middlebrooks’s glove but went right to Xander Boagaerts at short, who was able to throw on to first just in time to get the speedy Crisp.  Or did he?  Oakland manager Bob Melvin came out to challenge the play.  We got to see it several times on the video board, and it did confirm that the ball got there just before Crisp’s foot hit the bag.  When the call on the field was upheld, I chuckled because the rule is that managers only get one challenge in the first six innings (unless they’re right, in which case it doesn’t count), and Melvin had wasted his on the first pitch.

The center field video board showed us the replay several times. See? He's totally out!

The center field video board showed us the replay several times. See? He's totally out! (At least according to some blind guy in New York.)

It’s a good thing that Crisp was out, because a walk, a stolen base, and a single plated a run later in the inning.  The Red Sox were busy doing a whole lot of nothing at the plate against Sonny Gray, and in the third, the A’s threatened again.  This time a two-out single was followed by a double down the left field line.  As the baserunner rounded third, Grady Sizemore fired to Bogaerts, who relayed the throw to the plate where Pierzynski was waiting.  Out!  We cheered the end of the inning, but when the replay was shown several times on the board without the usual between-innings stuff, I realized this play was being challenged too.  Bob Melvin shouldn’t have been able to use another challenge, but apparently this one could be called for by the umps to check whether the play at the plate was within the rules.  It was an “umpire’s review” as opposed to the “manager’s challenge” earlier in the game.  Catchers can’t block the plate until they have the ball in their hands, and that’s how this play happened; Pierzynski had the ball in his hand when he blocked the plate perfectly, then slapped the tag on the runner.  It was all legit, and the play stood.

I moved around from the bleachers to a better seat in the seventh inning.

I moved around from the bleachers to a better seat in the seventh inning.

The Red Sox tied the game in the fifth on Sizemore’s double.  They went on to load the bases with one out, but Jackie Bradley Jr., who had already hit into a double play his first time up, grounded back to the pitcher for an inning-ending 1-2-3 twin killing.  Making matters worse, Oakland scored again in the top of the sixth.  Lackey wasn’t pitching badly – he had been especially impressive in a five-pitch fifth inning resulting in two ground balls and a popup – but the offense was particularly futile.

Jonny Gomes waits while the A's change pitchers before pinch-hitting.

Jonny Gomes waits while the A's change pitchers before pinch-hitting.

Although it was warmer than the other games I had been to, it was a windy day with only brief periods of sun.  The wind felt worse in the bleachers, and it rained off and on, making it feel colder than it was.  In the middle of the seventh, I decided to move around and find a better seat, and I wound up in Section 17.  I stayed in the grandstand in case it rained again, rather than moving right down front.  It looked like I had found a good lucky seat when Pierzynski homered to lead off the inning, tying the game at 2.  And after a wind-blown fly ball by Jonny Gomes fell in for an E9, they once again had runners at second and third , but again they failed to capitalize.  This time Bradley tried a squeeze bunt, but he hit it right back to the pitcher, who looked the runners back before throwing on to first.

JBJ attempts a squeeze bunt in the seventh.  Unfortunately it didn't go as planned.

JBJ attempts a squeeze bunt in the seventh. Unfortunately it didn't go as planned.

In the eighth, pinch-runner Jonathan Herrera was caught stealing to end the inning, and in the ninth, the Sox’ third double play of the day ended the inning with the game still tied.

Junichi Tazawa threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts.

Junichi Tazawa threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts.

Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara each threw a scoreless frame, and then Chris Capuano came on for the tenth.  He got two quick outs, but then gave up a double and walked the next two batters.  Burke Badenhop was summoned, but he gave up an infield single that plated the go-ahead run.  The Sox still had a chance in the bottom of the tenth, when Will Middlebrooks ended up on second base after his lead-off hit was bobbled in the outfield.  But Bradley hit a ground ball to third that erased Middlebrooks, so there was now a runner on first with one out instead of a runner on second with no outs.  Even Dustin Pedroia was not immune from the futility, as he grounded into a double play to end the frustrating game.

May 4, 2014 • Posted in: 2014 Games • Share on Facebook

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