Tagged: Faith

ALCS Game 5: I’m a believer!

I went into Game 5 knowing that it would either be a wake or a party, and that whichever it was to be, I had to be there.  An excellent omen: I called the box office that morning to find that one of my favorite field box singles was available!

I made my way in in time for BP, of course.

Josh Beckett and Dustin Pedroia.  “Don’t bite your fingernails!”

Kevin Cash, Gary Tuck, and David Ross trek in from the bullpen.

Devern Hansack, Justin Masterson and Manny Delcarmen, waiting too far out in center to have to do much of anything.

The Sox spared no opportunity to remind us of past comebacks pregame, not only in the montage from 2004 that still leaves me sobbing, but in bringing out history in the flesh for first pitch!

Curt Schilling.

Daisuke Matsuzaka took the mound for the Sox, and the battle began.

Akinori Iwamura and Jason Varitek.

It didn’t start well for the Sox.  Aki singled…

And BJ Upton homered.  Two batters, two runs.

Carlos didn’t fish for that one, but he did strike out.

The switch to Scott Kazmir might have given Sox fans hope, but he would pitch six scoreless innings.

Even Dustin Pedroia, the littlest MVP, could get nothing going.

The wind whipped the flag and the banner.  “Don’t forget,” it challenged us.  “Keep the faith.”

But Carlos Pena wouldn’t strike out his second time up.

And Evan Longoria followed with a home run of his own.

While Jed Lowrie grounded into a fielder’s choice…

… to be stranded on second with nothing to show.

Hideki Okajima came in after Aki walked to pitch the fifth and sixth, allowing no runs.

But Manny Delcarmen walked the two batters he faced in the seventh…

… resulting in the call to Jonathan Papelbon.

After a double steal, Paps allowed both of Manny’s runners to score on a BJ Upton double.  7-0 Rays, top of the seventh.  Backs to the wall.

But Fenway’s an amazing place.  And you could feel the spirit of the park stir.  No cowbells, no thundersticks, no exhortation from the scoreboard to “Make some noise!”  Just the passion and the life’s blood of the faithful, the ones who love and support this team, the ones who believe.

Kazmir gave way to Grant Balfour.  Jed Lowrie got it started with a double.  Tek and Kotsay flied out, but Coco singled, Pedie singled (knocking Lowrie in), and then came Big Papi.

And after a three-run homer, the drive was on.  Papelbon had three up, three down.  Jason Bay would walk on  four straight pitches from Wheeler before J.D. Drew drilled a pitch out of the park.  Lowrie and Casey made outs before Mark Kotsay doubled to center field.

And then came Coco.

Coco Crisp.  Overlooked, perhaps, in the rush to anoint Jacoby Ellsbury prince of center field, but a gamer and a man possessed of a fierce and determined heart.  Coco had a magnificent at-bat, working a full count, fouling off four consecutive pitches, and finally lacing a single to right, scoring Kotsay and tying the game.  Fenway was in a frenzy of Dionysian proportions.

We’d had Papelbon for all he was worth–but we needed a closer.  And we turned to Justin Masterson.

Jason Bartlett singled, and got a lot of attention at first,

but instead of bunting him over, Aki flied out.  Upton walked, but Pena hit into a marvelously scripted double play.

How to explain the ninth?  Pedie, our MVP, grounded out.  Ortiz, our heart, struck out.  Then came Kevin Youkilis, who gutted out a ten-pitch at-bat that ended in an infield single, thrown away by Longoria to put Youk on second.  Jay Bay was intentionally walked… in order to face J.D. Drew.

It seemed as though Drew might not get a pitch in the strike zone…

But he did.

And Fenway erupted.

Who knows what tonight will bring?  I only know this–I’ll be there for my team until the last pitch is thrown.

I’m a believer.

Jason Bay

Thursday, at the trade deadline, I could feel a whirlwind of emotions.  Relief that there was resolution.  Shock that there had really been a trade (my heart knew it had to happen, but my head thought the deal would never go through).  Apprehension at a team without Manny.  And anticipation to see what we had in Jason Bay.

I had a ticket for Friday night, and while I was a bit disappointed I hadn’t had one for what turned out to be Manny’s last game, I was very happy to have one for Jay Bay’s first!

I was delighted to see that there were already T-shirts for sale–and already people wearing them!  Not to mention one young man in a Sox hat and a Bay Pirates jersey.

It had to be overwhelming for him, but he already seemed to take it in stride.

And I was very moved to be part of the first ovations for him.  I’d been a little anxious about the fan response, but it was a magnificent showing of the best that Boston has to offer.  And he himself looked both moved and a touch uncomfortable, in a very endearing way, to be receiving accolades before he’d even had a chance to show what he could do.

Accidentally shot with the shutter speed too slow, but I kinda liked the effect!

Oof!  Well, it’s one way to get on base…

Of course, he went to score the first run–the one that looked like it might be enough, especially if we had good defense…

…like the kind he showed on a magnificent sliding catch, for which he’s getting a pat from Lowrie here.  And it was at that moment that I realized I was smitten, in a baseball sense.

Perhaps it would have been the perfect capper if the ball he hit high off the Monster had cleared it, but as a longtime fan of Jed Lowrie, I guess I’m not sorry that they could both celebrate!

I couldn’t be at the park for Saturday’s heroics, though I did see Sean Casey that day and he was effusive in his praise of Jay Bay.  But I was back at the park Sunday, in my brand new Bay 44 shirt!

Youk pointing something out.  I’d like to think it’s the hawk.  “And if you see that… just make sure it’s not carrying its lunch.  Sometimes it likes to… share.”

Pregame warming up.

I took a shot like this Friday but he looks much better here; it could be a better seat and better light, but I’d like to think it’s my growing affection!

At the risk of undermining my baseball credibility, I have to note that Jay Bay’s got a very nice, er, stance.

Too late, Rob Bowen!

We’re no strangers to embracing new players midyear in Boston, of course; 2004 is enduring testimony to that!  But I’m a little surprised myself by how happy I am to have Jay Bay in the fold.  No, I don’t think we’re going to win out the rest of the way, of course.  But it’s funny how a solid, capable, down-to-earth guy has made my Sox-loving heart soar again.