Friday April 20, 2012 was a historic day for Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. The ballpark, Green Monster and all, celebrated its 100th Anniversary, welcoming back numerous Red Sox players old and new to join in on the pre-game ceremonies. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jon Lester are among the popular Sox players now and they were joined by other more recent familiar faces that included Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, and Kevin Millar. Then there was Carlton Fisk, Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, Carl Yastrzemski, Luis Tiant, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr. Not to mention Jim Rice, Reggie Smith, Bill Buckner, Mo Vaughn, and Terry Francona. The players walked out to their respective positions before coming together in the in-field during maestro John Williams’ new composition, “Fanfare for Fenway.”
After the National Anthem was performed by the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart, the first pitch(es) came from Caroline Kennedy, Thomas Fitzgerald, and Mayor Thomas Menino to Fisk, Yaz, and Rice, fans then toasted to Fenway, led by Martinez and Millar. After the emotional ceremony, there was a game to play, but it might have been better if the Sox just packed their bags and left for the day. Many of the fans may have wanted to substitute in any and all of the players for the pitching staff in both games of the rain-shortened series against the Yankees.
Wearing uniforms based on the ones both teams wore in 1912, the Sox lost to the Yankees, on the 100th Anniversary of their beloved ballpark, 6-2. The Yankees hit five home runs, thankfully all solo shots, two from third baseman Eric Chavez, one from DH Alex Rodriguez, one from right-fielder Nick Swisher, and one from catcher Russell Martin. All of them came off of pitcher Clay Buchholz through the second to the sixth innings. The Sox had ten hits, just one less than the Yankees, but could only come up with two runs off of Yankees’ starter Ivan Nova. Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, and Mike Aviles all had doubles, but only Aviles got an RBI. The second run came off of the hot-hitting bat of David Ortiz who has been the constant on the team from the start of the season, and through the majority of his tenure with Boston.
Game 2 versus the Yankees is one that the Red Sox and their fans would like to never speak of again. The Red Sox tore into Yankees’ starter Freddy Garcia, who was done after just starting the second inning. After Ryan Sweeney doubled in the first, Adrian Gonzalez followed through with his own ground rule double to get a run, and he came in on a double by David Ortiz. Up 2-0, the Sox scored three more in the second after Cody Ross singled and scored on a single from Aviles. Darnell McDonald, who had doubled, scored on Sweeney’s sac fly. After Aviles stole second, Dustin Pedroia hit him in with a single. The Sox made it 7-0 in the third when Ortiz, who had singled, scored on McDonald’s sac fly and Youkilis, who was hit by a pitch, came in on Aviles’ single. The Yankees remained scoreless through five and the Red Sox tacked onto their lead in the bottom of the fifth after Jarrod Salatalamacchia doubled and scored on a home run from Ross. Fans were enjoying the offensive attack on the Yankees, and the pitching gem by starter Doubront, despite a sixth inning home run to Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira, when suddenly things went bad, very quickly.
There’s no reason a team, who went up 9-0 over five innings should lose a game, unless their bullpen implodes. That’s just what happened to the Sox after Doubront left the game after going six innings, allowing one run off of four hits, and striking out seven Yankees. The Yankees could touch him for only one and, unlike Buchholz, Doubront shut down the Yankees and is continuing to prove how much he deserves a spot in the rotation. Padilla came on in the seventh and promptly let up five runs, thanks to a grand slam from Swisher. He was then followed by Matt Albers who allowed two more runs when Teixeira hit another home run. Score after seven innings, 9-7. Franklin Morales came on in relief in the eighth and allowed another run to the Yankees. Aceves came in and allowed a double to Swisher and the Yankees took a one-run lead. Teixeira didn’t quite have it in him for another home run, and settled on a double instead for another run. Martin hit a two-run double and Derek Jeter added an RBI single to give the Yankees the edge in a now 15-9 game.
In the bottom part of the inning, the Sox went down in order and the game headed into the ninth. Recent call-up, Junichi Tazawa, came on in the ninth for the Sox and miraculously kept the Yankees off the scoreboard and shut them down one-two-three. Though Ortiz got on with a single to lead-off the bottom of the ninth, Nick Punto hit a double play that Teixeira handled at first unassisted. Saltalamacchia gave the Sox one last bit of hope with a single, and he got to second on Yankees’ pitcher, Cody Eppley’s, wild pitch. In a fitting end to the game, Ross was called out on strikes.
The Sox and Yankees were to play a third game on Sunday night, but instead, it just rained. It continues to rain on Boston as the Sox head to Minnesota for three games against the Twins, Monday-Wednesday, before heading to Chicago to meet up against the White Sox for a four game series. Even if the offense continues to be hot, if the pitching blows it, the games will not be fun to watch. Maybe the Sox shouldn’t stop at adding Tazawa and the recent call-up, Lars Anderson, to the team. Bring on shortstop Jose Iglesias and catcher Ryan Lavarnway and add a spark to the team. Everyone in baseball knows they need it.