|Game 135: August 30, 2008|
|White Sox||2||L: Mark Buehrle (11-11)||76-59, 3 game losing streak|
|Red Sox||8||W: Michael Bowden (1-0)||79-56, 2 game winning streak|
|Highlights: The left field pavilion seats are among the best seats under $100 in the park. I highly recommend snagging tickets in this section if they are available.|
Last night the weather was perfect despite the warnings of passing showers or even thunderstorms. The late August game had a perfect combination of summer conditions and playoff implications. Both Sox teams have their division championships within reach and, if they are not successful in that, the wild card would be their only other option.
Into this turbulent playoff picture entered Michael Bowden, a 21-year old pitcher whom the Red Sox drafted out of high school in 2005. That draft has already yielded Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jed Lowrie (as well as Craig Hansen, who was packaged with Brandon Moss to bring Jason Bay to Boston). Bowden was the 47th overall pick was compensation for losing Derek Lowe to free agency.
I sat next to a fan who was scoring the game and had an iPhone through which he accessed SoSH and other baseball resources. He said the closer you sit to the press box the better the connection is. We were both tickled by Dustin Pedroia batting fourth. We wondered when the last time a second baseman batted clean-up was, and Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant reported that it was the first time since Carlos Baerga had in 2002.
At the opposite end of spectrum was the guy wearing a Boston Dirt Dogs shirt in front of me. He claimed our section was lame because we didn’t stand up when there were two strikes on the last batter of each inning. As far as I am concerned that is a Yankee Stadium tradition, not a Fenway one. He and his friend were attempting to land two different pairs of single women sitting in their row. One twosome left in the sixth inning or so and the second duo left in the bottom of the eighth. Before she left, the woman from the second pair said, “That’s horrible and you’re horrible. I feel really sorry for you, but I can’t deal with someone like you.”
That was one of the more memorable and honest letdowns I’ve witnessed, but I will never know what prompted such a reaction. If only this were an episode of “Sox Appeal,” or if fans could be miked up like they do for players for certain broadcasts.
Mark Buehrle was a letdown for his teammates. The lefty couldn’t live by guile alone for the required innings for a decision; in just four and two-third innings the starter surrendered 11 hits and seven earned runs, incluidng Jeff Bailey’s first MLB homer of this season and second of his career. I noticed that his teammates didn’t give him the silent treatment (the tactic the first women used until they got so fed up with Boston Dirt Dog fan they left) when he got to the dugout. Instead, the Red Sox immediately came up to high five Bailey and thump him on the back.
They know that Bailey’s stay in the majors won’t be long, that he probably won’t be an everyday player on this or any other team. That moment might be one of the few that he will have in the bigs.
The view from the left field pavilion is stupendous. A.J. Pierzynski’s eighth inning double soared right in front of us. I looked down to watch Bay track the ball and I saw the intensity in his eyes. As he ran towards the wall he followed it until he realized he was running out of real estate. He changed course and positioned himself to gather the carom. Bay pivoted and fired to second, but even a poky catcher could cruise to second on such a shot.
It would take quite an outing to overshadow a premiere prospect’s successful debut, but Pedroia had that kind of outing. In his post-game intervew, the infielder said, “I told David he better quit bitching about getting pitches to hit, because he got plenty tonight.” For the second straight game Pedroia went 4-for-4. He sparked a mini-rally in the fifth with his fifth inning double. Pedroia faked out Orlando Cabrera by reaching for the bag but then evaded the tag at the last second to get the safe call.
Terry Francona must have missed Derryl Cousins’s call or was playing the practical joke of a lifetime on his second baseman. The field manager came out to argue but then changed his tack once he realized Pedroia just knocked in his third hit of the night.
Ozzie Guillen also took note of Pedroia. With two out and a man on Guillen intentionally walked Pedroia to get to Mark Kotsay, who had already had three hits and drove in three runs. During Pedroia’s at bats, the crowd would chant “MVP!” While Pedroia’s production combined with his position and defense should get him some votes, sluggers such as Carlos Quentin and Josh Hamilton will garner more attention with their gaudy home run totals and RBIs. But he definitely is the Most Valuable Peewee.