Storybook Ending


Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS was One for the Ages

David Mamet couldn’t have written a better script.

We headed into Boston for game 2 of the 2013 American League Championship Series with the Red Sox already down one game to the Detroit Tigers. Another loss would have put the home team down 0-2 heading for three games in Detroit – not where you want to be – either in the series or geographically.

sausage_kingOn the car radio on the way in, the Patriots were losing a frustrating game against the New Orleans Saints. Not a good omen.

Going in town two hours early meant getting a $40 space in the lot off Beacon Street, rather than paying $30 and having to walk a mile down Commonwealth Avenue. First stop: Lansdowne Street and dinner at the Sausage King. Peering in from the street at the TVs inside the “Game On” bar, the Patriots were still losing.

With darkness descending, we entered the park through the gates on Yawkey Way. With less than a minute on the clock and the Patriots still down by 3, crowds gathered around brady2the TVs along the concourse. Cheers erupted as Ton Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins in the end zone to win the game, foreshadowing what those who stuck around Fenway would experience four hours later.

We headed for our seats in Section 9, Row 2 of the right field grandstands. If you were paying attention, you picked up on another bit of foreshadowing as Dave Roberts took the mound for the ceremonial first pitch and threw a strike to David Ross.

Detroit jumped to a 5-0 lead with one run in the first inning and four in the sixth. But the way Max Scherzer was pitching, it felt like 20-0. Boston managed to scrape together two hits for a run in their half of the sixth, but it didn’t do much to change the Fenway mood.

ALCS-2“This isn’t even fun,” one fan in the row behind us said to his buddy.

The seventh inning came and went, still 5-1 Tigers. The Tigers went quietly in the top of the eighth. The Fenway PA system began blaring “Sweet Caroline.” It’s irritating enough on a good night. I took out my phone and tweeted, “Forget Sweet Caroline. I’m not in the mood.”

Stephen Drew grounded out to start the Red Sox eighth. Down to five outs. Then, Will Middlebrooks doubled. Ellsbury walked on a full count. Faint hope began to stir.

Shane Victorino stepped to the plate. The PA system played his at-bat song, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. “Don’t worry ‘bout a thing” Marley’s voice intoned over the loudspeakers. As has become a 2013 Fenway custom, the crowd finishes the lyric, “cause every little thing gonna be alright.”

But mighty Victorino struck out. There was still no joy in Hubville as, by all appearances, every little thing was not going to be alright.

Then Dustin Pedroia singled to right, loading the bases with two outs. Detroit went to their big closer, Joaquin Benoit, for the four-out save.

papiAging slugger David Ortiz strode to the plate. On the first pitch, he lined a bullet into the Detroit bullpen for a game tying grand slam. The eruption at Fenway Park could be heard by those “fans” walking to their cars after leaving in the top of the eighth inning to beat the traffic. It warms my heart to picture them listening on the car radio with the brims of their pink hats pulled down to hide their faces as Saltalamacchia singled home Johnny Gomes with the winning run in the ninth.

I checked my phone as we were leaving Fenway at midnight. A friend had tweeted to me, “Somebody’s mood just changed.”

It had indeed.

[This column originally appeared in the October 24, 2013 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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