Last night I saw the great game ending home run by Alexei Ramirez, and of course headed over to StubHub to see if I could find a cheap way into the stadium. Not only did I find a cheap way in I found a great seat for a great price. You have to love having the day off when nobody else does. I decided that I didn’t want to pay twice as much to park as I did on the tickets themselves so I took the South Shore to Chicago, and then the Red Line to the park. This was my first time trying this out. It actually worked out well even though it takes a lot longer to get to the park. You really can’t beat getting to the park for under $20 though. I got there a little early so I decided to check out the new Bacardi at the Park restaurant by the old stadium. At first I thought the prices were a little high, but in reality they were not bad. I had a beer, burger, and fries for $16. Like I said it was a little pricey, but I was pretty full when I was done. I would have had to spend a lot more money inside to get that full. Just as I was done eating I heard the magical announcement that the gates to the park were now open.
This was the first time that I was inside the Cell this season. I have been to two other Major League park before setting foot in my ‘home’ park. That is pretty weird for me. Since their was no batting practice I had plenty of time to walk around and see the stadium. It was a great day to do it as the sun was out for pictures, but the fans were not. The announced attendance today was 16,523, and I think that was a little light. You really could just about sit anywhere you wanted today. That was part of the reasoning for going to the game. I really wanted to see Jackie Robinson Day in person, but a cold and rainy forecast made my pick this 65 degree afternoon day.
This was my first chance to see how the fans responded to Juan Pierre in person as well. On television they really sounded like they were giving him the business. Today he did not do anything to get back in the fans good graces. He started off the game with a bunt hit, and then got himself picked off of first base. In the top of the third he booted an easy grounder allowing Cliff Pennington to advance to second on a base hit. The fans really started getting on him then. Of course he led off the bottom of the third and got another hit. He was once again picked off leading the fans to really boo him as he left the field. He was on base all five times he came up today. He even scored a run. I like him because of how hard you can see him working. He is always the first on the field before the game, and is usually the last to leave it. Ozzie might want to give him a day off after the off day to clear his head a bit though.
John Danks started the game and pitched very well today. He went eight innings only giving up one run on five hits. His lone run came on a Hideki Matsui home run. He really had a good game. He had to leave though after throwing 108 pitches. This is the Danks that you know well from last season.
The Sox had a three run leading going into the ninth inning thanks to some timely hitting. Early in the game the hits weren’t coming. Gordon Beckham doubled in Juan Pierre to put the Sox on the board in the fifth and tie the game. The next inning they scored two more being knocked in by Ramon Castro and Brent Morel at the bottom of the order. Going into the bottom of the 8th inning the Sox had a two run lead. With the way the bullpen has been pitching I was hoping they could add to that lead. They did add a run to go into the ninth with the three run lead. That should be safe…right?
By the 8th inning I had moved to left field by the Sox bullpen. I saw Chris Sale and Jesse Crain warming up, and really did not have a terrible feeling. Maybe it is the fact that I enjoy watching Sale pitch so much. With a three run lead Sale was brought into the game. He proceeded to give up three hits without retiring a batter to make things interesting. He was pulled after only three batters for Jesse Crain. Crain did manage to get an out by striking out Kurt Suzuki, but not before walking Daric Barton to load the bases. Ozzie then brought in Matt Thornton with the bases loaded and one out. I am a huge Thornton fan. He has struggled so far this season. I really don’t know that I would put a guy in this situation. The odds were against him having any success, and he needs some of that to get him back on track. He did strike out Ryan Sweeney who came in as a pinch hitter. For some reason I thought that it was the third out. I don’t know how I lost track, but I did. That is very unlike me, and made the base hit by Cliff Pennington on the first pitch to plate two and tie the game that much harder to take.
Once the game was tied the already sparse crowd really started to thin out. After the Sox failed to score in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings it was as if the floodgates opened. The fans left making this a high school game in attendance. That was just as well as Thornton walked two of the first three batters he faced, and then gave up two straight hits. Tony Pena was then brought in the game, but it was too little too late. The Sox went down in order in the bottom of the tenth to end the game. What should have been a nice win turned out to be another gut wrenching loss.
Where do we go from here? This team was supposed to have a strong bullpen. They have really let the Sox down to start the season. It is not just one guy either. That is the scary part. Who can Ozzie trust at this point? The only positive I can take from this right now is that in 2005 the Sox had two closers before they found Bobby Jenks. Maybe a fat kid is just waiting for his chance again. I don’t think that the pen can be this bad all season, but it would be nice to see them get some good games under their belt. The line by the A’s bullpen was more like what I would have expected the Sox pen to put up. They pitched 4 1/3 innings giving up 0 hits, 1 unearned run, with only two walks and five strikeouts. As my father said tonight these games that are getting blown now could be huge at the end of the year. Bullpen by committee works very well when everyone is pitching well. It does not work well when nobody is pitching well.
As I left the stadium today I walked past many signs with the 2011 slogan of “All In” on them. All I kept thinking was that if they keep pitching like this they will be “All Done” before you know it. I really hope we can look back at this hiccup later in the season and laugh.
As I have done all season here are my scorecards from the game: