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Home » September 2008 Game CommentsSeptember 2008 » Yakyūnetsu [野球熱]

Yakyūnetsu [野球熱]

Game 150: September 15, 2008
WinRed Sox 13 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (17-2) 89-61, 3 game winning streak
Rays 5 L: Scott Kazmir (11-7) 88-60, 3 game losing streak
Highlights: The crowd in Tropicana Field were absolute baseball crazed, or as the Japanese would say, inflicted with baseball fever (yakyūnetsu). The 29,772-contingent was spread sparsely through the stands that can hold 36,048. The Rays fans beamed proudly with their freshly-purchased Rays gear: pristine caps and crisp t-shirts that had the appearance of being recently removed from a clothes hanger . Even with their cowbells they were drowned out by the thunder of the Boston bats and the accompanying ruckus. Rays fans did attempt to drown out Dustin Pedroia’s MVP chants, which is more than can be said for the devotees in Texas, but Red Sox fans dominated in this rout.

If St. Petersburg were any closer to New England, the stands would have been engulfed in a sea of red. Fortunately for the Rays, their domicile is a 1,200 mile roadtrip from Fenway. The divide between the spirits of the respective teams after last night’s contest was probably wider.

The Rays had their vaunted ace on the mound, the southpaw pitcher they so deftly swiped from the Mets and who now anchors the rotation. Opposing him was the Japanese wunderkind whose surface statistics impress but whose methods underwhelm.

Kazmir lasted a mere three innings. During the debacle, the twirler was subject to whiplash as four home runs were shot hither and yon beyond the fences... except for Jason Bay’s, which was ruled a four-bagger in accordance with those inimitable Tropicana Field ground rules:

  • Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over fair territory:
    • Batted ball that strikes either of the lower two catwalks, lights or suspended objects in fair territory: Home Run.
    • Batted ball that is not judged a home run and remains on a catwalk, light or suspended object: Two Bases.
    • Batted ball that is not judged a home run and strikes a catwalk, light or suspended object in fair territory shall be judged fair or foul in relation to where it strikes the ground or is touched by a fielder. If caught by fielder, batter is out and runners advance at own risk.
  • Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over foul territory: DEAD BALL

Who are Fenway denizens to judge, however? The ladder on the left field wall is a pre-Monster seat relic that could, and should, be removed.

With his two-run shot in the fourth, Jason Varitek surpassed Carlton Fisk as the record-holder for Red Sox catcher with the most home runs. Fisk could have, and should have, the bulk of his homers for his first team, but again, that was in the archaic days before the Red Sox had competent front office leadership.

Home plate umpire Jerry Meals was tetchy and warned the dugouts when Kazmir hit Varitek with a pitch to open the top half of the second inning. Nothing came of the warning, however: Mike Lowell was plunked by Mitch Talbot and Matsuzaka grazed Evan Longoria with no repercussions.

Matsuzaka lasted the minimum for a decision while striking out seven, walking two, and allowing three hits (one a homer to Akinori Iwamura). With his extra time the starter was shown in a rapt conversation with Tim Wakefield without the aid of an interpreter. As with Sarah Palin, the time for an interview in English (not Japanese or politician-speak) with reporters is well overdue.

After all, it would be nice to heard Matsuzaka’s thoughts on being so close to the American League East Division title for the second year in the row, and nicer still to know if Palin does have any thoughts beyond the pre-made sound bites she dutifully parrots.

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