It was an absolutely perfect day for a baseball game. The sun wasn’t glaring and the air was calm and not humid. Large, slowly drifting clouds swept lazily across the clear blue sky. It was not only perfect for a baseball game, it was also a perfect day to celebrate the 4th of July.
The Red Sox would take on the Seattle Mariners at 1:05 PM, and I had plans to sit back and watch the game with my old friend visiting from overseas. We were driving back from meeting him in Brookline when my dad got a call. Our neighbor, a season ticket holder, had just found out about some plans that would interfere with him attending the game at Fenway. My friend and I suddenly had tickets to the Red Sox game. Here we were, in Brookline, driving along at a leisurely pace and just enjoying the day. All of a sudden it was a mad rush to get the tickets back at home, and race back out to the ballpark. It was 12:30.
We arrived at Fenway before the first pitch, and got to our seats in less than a minute. It was a lot easier finding them than it had been for me in the past. A cool breeze was flowing through the stands when we sat down, and it continued through the game. We sat down with a great view of the field, in section 23. Section 23 is behind home plate about 30 or so rows back and to the left a little from a fan’s point of view. I was overjoyed to be back in Fenway, as it was my first game this year.
Here is a view from the section we were in (I didn’t take this picture):
Then, abruptly, the game started. The pitching matchup was Brad Penny vs. Garrett Olson. Nick Green was taking a well earned day off after his clutch double last night nearly won the game for us. Julio Lugo was in his place in the lineup.
The game began hopefully for Penny, as he struck out the first two batters he faced. Then Jose Lopez hit a long single off the center field wall, and there was life for the Mariners. However, the inning ended without damage. However, it took Penny 15 pitches to get through the first, a first sign that he would throw 100+ pitches once again in this one.
In the 2nd, Jason Varitek connected with an Olson pitch and went deep over the monster for a 2 run homerun, putting the Sox on the board first. I thought it was cool that Tek’s walk up song was “Kryptonite,” by 3 Doors Down, a song that mentions Superman. Varitek is almost like a Superman figure for the Sox: tough, team captain, leader, enforcer, etc. He also came to the rescue like Superman today, giving the Sox their only runs in the game.
The atmosphere in Fenway was terrific. At one point we got the wave to go around 6 or 7 times.
Everyone was on their feet after the V-Tek homerun, aside from a few Mariners fans sitting behind us. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Papelbon today, and I love watching him pitch, but I did see Masterson come in for relief. I realized that my own pitching motion (I pitched a few times last year for my team) was very similar to Masterson’s, so it was cool to see him.
One of my alltime favorite songs, a 4th of July classic, played on the speakers during the game:
Yeah, you know it. “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago.
Okay, back to the game. The Mariners finally tied the game up in the 5th when, after singling to begin the inning, Chris Woodward was bunted over by Ronny Cedeno and later scored.
The inning before, I had sensed trouble with Penny. In the 4th he had walked two straight batters with 2 men out, to put himself in a jam that really shouldn’t have even happened.
Penny was taken out of the game in the 7th with the game tied 2-2. Both Masterson and Hideki Okajima pitched strong, and we got through the 7th and 8th innings without damage. Takashi Saito came in to keep the game in our hands and send it to extras. He promptly walked three men to load the bases with only 1 out. Chris Woodward hit a bloop single in to shallow right field a little behind first base. Pedroia came on strong and reached for it but it dropped just inches from his glove, scoring a run. Saito barely got out of the inning after that, and the Sox were silenced in our half of the 9th.
When will these late inning troubles end?! Our past 4 games have all been decided in the late innings, one of them in extras. We have lost 3 of these 4, and won the one game by only 1 run. Even worse, Takashi Saito has taken the loss in 2 of those 3 games, raising his ERA from 2.96 on June 28 to 3.45 today.
We have got to find a more reliable guy then Saito, or at least get him out of this funk. Let’s get the job done in the late innings. Go Sox!
Final Box Score:
Thanks for reading and happy 4th of July!
All stats from mlb.com