Monday, May 21, 2012

Daisuke Matsuzaka's Pawtucket Experience

I'm sure Scott Boras never told Daisuke Matsuzaka about this kind of big league experience when they were negotiating their deal with the Red Sox back in 2007.  And I'm sure that Daisuke never thought he'd ever have to pitch in the Minor Leagues as a result of Tommy John surgery performed last year.  Yeah, I'm sure they didn't tell Matsuzaka about a lot of things.  I think we saw Daisuke's last successful start on Patriots Day in 2011.  We were in the Coke Pavilion with a  bird's eye view of the game.  Matsuzaka pitched masterfully (well at least as masterful as he can pitch) and we were treated to yet another win in Fenway.  Yeah, that was his last decent start.

Now fast forward a year and part of the journey that a pitcher takes as he rehabilitates from arm surgery is extended spring training.  Trips to small towns dot a pitchers recovery and a major leaguer like Daisuke probably treats himself to the finest dining (Olive Garden) and the nicest hotel (Super 8 or Holiday Inn Express) the Minor Leagues can provide.  We've seen this before a couple of years ago when Josh Beckett came to town to pitch for the PawSox.  He didn't pitch great, but we had a great time and it's not often that you can stand behind a chain link fence and watch a (former) 20 game winner throw fastballs in the bull pen.  Daisuke probably wasn't thinking about us, though.

And now we come back again to McCoy Stadium for C's 10th birthday party.  C and 4 of his friends join JMR to see if Daisuke can regain some of the magic that he had a back in 2008 and 2009.   All snickering aside.

I thought it was going to be a great start as the kids get pumped up for the game by taking the entire 45 minute drive to play a game called Sweet or Sour.  Basically, the five of them would wave frantically at drivers passing by; if these suckers wave back it's a "Sweet" and if they give a dirty look, its a "sour"  I was thinking about driving through some tougher parts of the city to see how much they actually enjoyed this game, but I decided against it.

5pm.  Pawtucket, RI.  We finally arrive at our box seats (foul ball territory here too) and the kids are excited.  Daisuke, feeding off the energy on this beautiful night, seems to be on his game after a 1-2-3 first inning.  The next two innings? Well, I had to rely on what the PA announcer thought since I had to wait in four different lines to get these five kids food.  Seriously, couldn't these kids just all get hot dogs?  Not fried dough, pizza, french fries and ice cream? 

Two innings later, I mercifully come back (the nice older lady sitting behind us became my surrogate babysitter as the game wore on and told me that the boys were doing just fine) to see Daisuke serving up some of the usual poo poo platter of pitches.  Three hard hit singles lead to a run as the Clipper cut the PawSox's lead in half.  And although we took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the inning, Daisuke proceeded to hit a batter and then give up a two run shot to the last batter in the lineup Ben Copeland.  I don't even think Copeland was that excited to hit a home run off a major leaguer, since - you know - he really didn't.

Besides, the crowd starts to get restless.  Pawtucket isn't that far away from Boston, you know Daisuke, we don't like that crap here either!  The kids start to boo a little bit, too.  I think they just like to be part of the crowd.  One friend looks at me with "Why am I booing" look on his face.  Maybe I'll just stand in line at the concession stand again...

Daisuke gives up two more runs in the sixth before being pulled with one out in the Sixth.  Daisuke leaves to a smattering of applause.  He throws a baseball gingerly into the stands.  I half expect to be thrown back at him, just to show him what a a strike actually looks like.  Come to find out, Daisuke needed a cortisone shot in his shoulder a couple of days later.

But this pitching change seemed to have breathed some life into the team.  The PawSox score 2 runs in the 7th to tie the game, and then they scored a run in the eighth to take a 7-6 lead.  Now if only we can hold it!  Daisuke can't come back out there, right?

So, of course, the Paw Sox closer Mock gives up a little single and then walks the bases loaded with one out.  Nothing like having Art imitate life (or PawSox imitate the Red Sox)  But, on a 2-0 count, the Clippers hitter serves the ball to Jose Iglesias to start the patented 6-4-3 double play.  The crowd rises.  I think I shout "Get two!!"  The PawSox win!  Tonight would have been great for fireworks, what a great way to end the game.  The kids look up from their ice cream, just in time to see that the game has ended.

We all start to head back to the car.  The boys, fresh off the victory start to yell and scream in delight.  I then catch up to them as I hear them talk about who is sitting where.  Yep you guess it.  They were fighting over who got to sot next to the open windows so they could be the point person for "Sweet and Sour."  Oh well.  Its not the game that was the msot important thing anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment