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2003: Diary of a Season

Saturday, September 13, Fenway Park, Section 36

White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

The Red Sox lost again on Sunday, and on Monday they flew to Philadelphia for a make-up of the game that had been rained out in June. It was a wild game, with the lead changing hands several times before Trot Nixon's grand slam finally gave the win to the Sox. It was also the culmination of "Manny-gate". After being sick early in the weekend, Manny Ramirez had missed a doctor's appointment and then been seen in a hotel lobby with - of all people - a Yankee, Enrique Wilson. He flew with the team to Philly, but when asked to pinch-hit in the game, he said he'd rather not. So when the team got to Chicago for a two-game series, Grady Little sat Manny out of the first game. The Sox mustered only two hits, but luckily they were both home runs, and they beat the White Sox the next day, too, on David Ortiz's two home runs. Manny was back in the line-up quickly, and started hitting again like he had not missed a beat. Next it was on to New York, where the Sox took two of three from the Yankees, then to Baltimore, where they won another two out of three. Along the way, they had taken over the Wild Card lead from Seattle. Friday night they returned home and beat the White Sox. I was back for Saturday's game.

Section 36 view The game itself was less than outstanding. The surging White Sox had taken over the lead in the Central division, and Bartolo Colon finally lived up to his reputation. After John Burkett had outdueled him the other two times he had faced the Red Sox this year, they couldn't do anything against him tonight. Johnny Damon (3-3) and Todd Walker (2-4) accounted for all the Red Sox' hits, and their lone run scored on a sacrifice fly. The White Sox scored three runs off Wakefield, and that was all they would need.

The only amusing part of the game came on the final out of the Red Sox' seventh. Bill Mueller hit a fly to the warning track in left field. Chicago's left fielder Carlos Lee was up against The Wall when he reached up to catch it. One of the new additions at Fenway Park this year was the addition of the National League scores to the manual scoreboard on the Green Monster. It used to show all the scores years ago, but that had ended in the late 1970's when expansion to new cities made it impossible for everything to fit. N.L. scores were added back in 2003, but the space inside the Monster where the operators change the scores is only long enough to reach the American League scores from inside. As a result, they have to come out between innings and hook the National League scores on from the outside. Carlos Lee reached up and caught Mueller's fly to end the inning, but when he came down, his uniform got caught on one of the hooks where the "HOU" for the Houston/St. Louis score was hanging! The rest of the White Sox jogged in, but he was stuck there until center fielder Carl Everett came over and unhooked him. I had a good view from the bleachers, and it gave us quite a laugh, but unfortunately it was the only part of the game worth laughing about.

Monday, September 15, Fenway Park, Section 38

Red Sox 8, Devil Rays 2

On Sunday the Red Sox lost to Chicago again, but on Monday the Devil Rays came to town for a four-game series. David Ortiz got things started with a homer to lead off the second. He was on another tear, and was now considered a serious contender for the league's MVP award. (Although with the excellent years that Bill Mueller, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Jason Varitek were having, it was hard to even narrow it down to the most valuable player on the Red Sox!)

The Sox added two more runs in the fourth, when Ortiz knocked in Manny and then scored on Gabe Kapler's ground ball. Meanwhile, Marlon Anderson's single in the fifth was the first hit Derek Lowe allowed. The Rays made it 4-2 with a homer in the sixth, but that was all they would get, and the Sox kept adding runs on. Kevin Millar knocked in Manny in the fifth, Johnny Damon drove in Mueller in the sixth, and Manny homered in the seventh. They tacked on two more runs in the eighth and won, 8-2. Every Red Sox batter had at least one hit, a welcome relief after the past weekend when the offense had seemed to cool off against the White Sox. We were hoping to go to the playoffs, and didn't want the hitting to start dropping off now.

Tuesday, September 16, Fenway Park, Section 14, Box 110

Red Sox 3, Devil Rays 2

The next day, I got tickets from a business associate and brought my aunt. When offered the tickets, I picked this game because it was scheduled to be Pedro, and this time there were no injuries or rainouts to change that schedule. Our seats were behind first base, so we had a wonderful vantage point to watch the master at work. Masterful is exactly what Pedro was on this warm September night. He mowed through the Devil Rays in the first five innings. The only hit they had during that time was a single to lead off the third, and even then the batter was gunned down as he tried to stretch it to a double. The Red Sox pushed a run across in their half of the third, when Gabe Kapler singled, Nomar Garciaparra walked, and Todd Walker singled Kapler home.

Wally's 'system' In the bottom of the fifth, my parents called my cell phone. They were watching the game on TV, and Jerry Remy had just shown his Wally doll wearing the hair "system" I had made for him in August. (One of the running gags in the broadcast booth all year had been Sean McDonough teasing Remy that he wore a hairpiece, to which Remy would reply, "It's not just a rug, it's a system." The previous month, my friend had made some outfits for Wally. I made the "system", and we brought them up to Remy before the game one night. When I got home from tonight's game, I watched the tape. In the top of the fifth, the camera zoomed in on a fan holding a sign that read, "Remy's rug fell from above. Rub it 4 luck!" It was painted on a sheet, and had a giant hairpiece sewn on. Remy had a good laugh over the sign, and Don Orsillo added, "Someone was kind enough to send Wally a 'system', too." A batter later, the camera showed the booth, where Wally was sitting in his Adirondack chair wearing the "system". Orsillo liked Wally's new look, saying, "It's wind-resistent, flowing, looks natural. He looks like he's lost weight, looks like a young man.")

Back in the game, it was still 1-0 Sox when Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall doubled to lead off the sixth. Pedro then got three quick groundouts to end the inning and strand the runner. In the seventh, Aubrey Huff led off with a triple. But he was stranded, too. Pedro got the next two batters on popups and the third with a strikeout. The whole inning used only seven pitches, and he had now thrown only 87 through seven innings. In the eighth, he walked the leadoff batter, who then advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a pinch-hit single, tying the game at 1. Pedro retired the next two batters to get out of the inning, but now the game was tied and the offense would have to get back to work. In the bottom of the inning, Nomar led off with a double and moved to third on Walker's groundout. Manny Ramirez was intentionally walked, and the Devil Rays brought in a lefty to pitch to David Ortiz. Ortiz singled Nomar home to give the Sox the lead. Adrian Brown came in to run for Manny at third, and Bill Mueller gave the Sox some insurance, scoring Brown with a sac fly. After going 1-2 with a walk earlier in the game, Mueller's average was now at .331, leading the league.

Pedro's 100th win The Sox now led 3-1, but there was still the ninth inning to get through. Pedro had been so amazing all night, and I didn't want the bullpen to ruin it, like they had done so many times. He had only thrown 104 pitches (I love the new Fleet message board that shows pitch counts, so I can verify my own attempt to keep count) and I wanted him back for the ninth. I had watched the bullpen blow several of his leads already this year, and I believed that even a tiring Pedro is better than a rested anyone else. Grady Little thought so too, because Pedro came back out. This game was his to win or lose. He got the first two batters to ground out, then gave up a single to Marlon Anderson. Anderson took second on defensive indifference, but then scored on pinch-hitter Pete LaForest's single just over Damian Jackson's head. A pinch-runner came in for LaForest and stole second. But Pedro got Julio Lugo to pop up to Jackson to end the game. It was Pedro's third complete game of the season, and I had been lucky enough to go to all three. It was also his 100th win as a member of the Red Sox, and with only 28 losses, his .781 winning percentage ranks as the best in Red Sox history.

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