Saturday, April 19, 2008

Grande Papi!

What a fun night that was! The Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-3 on a beautifully warm spring evening in Boston while the Red Sox had their youth on display. Jed Lowrie made his major league debut at shortstop for the Red Sox with Julio Lugo getting the night off. Lowrie made the most of the opportunity hitting his first major league double while going 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored. On defense, where the Red Sox coaching staff feels he still needs some work, he was very solid on a busy errorless night, completing 7 assists and 2 put-outs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, already rookie of the year to many Red Sox fans, showed off his dazzling speed in the 4th drilling a triple to center field. We watched Texas center fielder Josh Hamilton chase the ball down, and quickly wondered if Ellsbury would try to leg out a triple - we looked backed to the field and he was already at third base. The man can fly! He used his speed again in the 8th inning when David Ortiz hit a single to center with Sean Casey on 2nd and Ellsbury on first. Casey scored easily and Ellsbury went to third, but the relay throw was dropped by first baseman Jason Botts, and in the blink of an eye Ellsbury was crossing the plate.

Last year's rookie of the year, Dustin Pedroia, got into the action in the 4th inning launching his first home run of of 2008 into the green monster seats, bringing home Ellsbury who was at third base following his triple. The kids were shining!

But, the highlight of the game was David Ortiz' grand slam in the 3rd inning. With two outs and no one on base, it looked like just another quick 1-2-3 inning. That's when the kids got things going. Jed Lowrie stroked his double to left field, then Ellsbury walked on four straight pitches, Pedroia following up with a walk of his own to load the bases. Now, we all know that Big Papi has not been hitting so well (he's been referred to as "Big Slumpi" in the NY Post), but when he strode to the plate, fans all across the ballpark rose to their feet in unison. A cheer started growing out of the night air, and we could just feel the energy build as the fans were trying to channel their energy into Big Papi and simply "will" him to get a hit and break this lousy slump. You could tell something great was about to happen as every set of eyes in the ballpark focused in on the play. Texas starter, Luis Mendoza, hurled a 93 mph sinking fastball to the outside of the plate, and Papi went with the pitch, going the opposite way and driving it high into the night sky. For a brief moment, the sound level dropped as 39,000 fans caught their breath and whispered a silent plea for the ball to travel far enough. When the ball finally came down, it landed in the 3rd row of the green monster seats and the crowd erupted! Big Papi is back, his grand slam providing all the runs the Red Sox would need.

Those first runs of the game led to one of my favorite Fenway traditions, our first "Kazoo Guy" sighting of 2008. I don't know his real name, we only know him as "Kazoo Guy". He sits in the bleachers about 20 rows back from the visitor's bullpen wearing a beat-up old Red Sox hat with two droopy red socks pinned to either side of it - making him look like he has dog ears. Whenever the Red Sox score a run, he stands up on his seat, and using his kazoo, leads the fans in the area in a cheer. He's been there leading that cheer for as long as I can remember. I just love that!

Dice-K Matsuzaka started the game and pitched well enough to earn the win, but is still struggling to get deep into games. He went 5 1/3 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, 4 strike outs, and 2 walks. He would have gone deeper, but he had already thrown 101 pitches at that point. Luckily, the bullpen was up for it last night. Javier Lopez did a nice job allowing only one base runner finishing the 6th and 7th innings. David Aardsma loaded the bases with two outs in the 8th, but managed to strike out Gerald Laird to get out of the jam.

Mike Timlin, like Big Papi, has been in a little slump of his own. But with last night being "Break Out of Your Slump Night", Timlin had to comply and reeled of an easy 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve the win.

And yes, Frank Catalanado was a bit of a pest, but luckily was unable to do too much damage, but he did his best. He doubled in the 4th, walked in the 6th, and walked to load the bases in the 8th. Maybe walking him was the best way to minimize the damage.
(Photos courtesy of Yahoo Sports)


Peter N said...

And Sat. night, Papi and Manny joined together. Another win! Hi to you, Rooster. That was a GREAT post.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it (kazoo and all :) How I wished that I could have been back up on the Green Monster and caught Big Papi's grand slam ball!

Rooster said...

It was a wonderful night, I must say. Thanks as always for the great comments.

I really do love Kazoo Guy - I may try a writeup of him at some point this summer.

Anonymous said...

That would be fun - The Kazoo guy interviewed by the Rooster lol.