Sunday, May 22, 2016 – Fenway Park, Section 42
Red Sox 5, Indians 2
When weather people on TV give the temperature and then say what it “feels like” to account for the heat index or wind chill, there really should be a third category – Fenway bleachers. As in, “The game time temperature is 59, with the humidity it feels like 65, but in the bleachers it’s 78.” That’s how this game was. The forecast had called for a high of 57 and rain, and since I was half-way back in the bleachers I had a long-sleeved shirt under my T-shirt plus a warm coat in case I got soaked. There was a light mist during batting practice, but that was it. I changed from the long-sleeved shirt into the T-shirt before the game started, and before long the sun came out and I was wishing I had shorts. People in the rest of the park had long sleeves and jackets, but the bleachers are a totally different climate!
Rick Porcello labored a bit in the second when he needed 33 pitches and gave up 2 runs. But he recovered nicely after that, and ended up going 5-2/3 without allowing anything else. And that was nothing compared to Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, who threw 40 pitches in the first and 29 more in the second. The first two innings lasted an hour and ten minutes and saw a combined 125 pitches, with the Sox leading 3-2.
Big Papi came up again in the bottom of the eighth. With a single, a double, and a homer (plus a walk) already in the game, we all knew he needed a triple to complete the cycle. As he strode to the plate, I remembered how he had just hit one the previous weekend (in the ninth to tie last Saturday’s game). That hit had gone into “the triangle” in the deepest part of center field and bounced around. If he wanted to hit one now, that’s what he was going to have to do again.
He worked a 3-1 count, as he always seems to do, and then he launched one. I couldn’t believe it, but it was heading right for the triangle! It went over the center fielder’s head and hit the warning track in front of the 420-foot marker, then bounced and hit off the top of the padding on the wall. I took my eye off it to watch him run – he was halfway to second and going full steam – when I saw him stop. The ball had gone to the exact place he needed it to, but it had taken an unfavorable bounce off the padding on the wall and (just barely) cleared the fence, landing in the stands for a ground-rule double. A few inches difference would have kept it in the park, and he would have made it easily into third. We gave him a nice ovation for the effort and laughed as he stood on second miming a running motion like he was ready to keep going.
[Note: I've been keeping score at games for 16 years, and while my notation for recording plays hasn't changed, I noticed that my scorecards have evolved with the times... because I now use emoticons. My note for this play was "Bounced into stands :( He totally would have made it."]
I don’t think I’ve ever been more bummed out by a double hit by someone on my team. But thinking about it after the game put it in a new perspective. He knew that for him to get a triple there was really only one place he could put it, and that’s exactly where he put it! How does he do that, time after time after time? It’s brilliant really, and why he’s (tied with Pedro as) my all-time favorite player.