Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sox Sellout Streak Ends, Collapse in Ninth

The Boston Red Sox's sellout streak officially came to an end last night in just the second home game of the season. For the first time since May 14th, 2003, Fenway Park failed to sell out. The streak lasted 794 games, a record for North American sports teams. It also coincided with the organization's most successful era since the Olde Towne Team captured four World Series titles in a span of seven years from 1912 (when the park opened) to 1918.

For almost a full decade, Fenway Park sold out every home game, rain or shine, as fans came from far and wide to root for (or against) the Red Sox. They saw their team win two World Series and make six postseason appearances. They witnessed two no-hitters from young pitchers Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. They experienced Nomar Garciaparra going into the hole, David Ortiz's dramatic home runs and Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home against Andy Pettitte. They were there to see Pedro Martinez's mastery, Curt Schilling's grit, and Tim Wakefield's floating knuckler.

But in the past calendar year, they've endured a lot of losing, too, including a devastating defeat last night at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore drew first blood by scoring a run on Nick Markakis's RBI groundout (plating Nate McLouth) in the top of the first. It didn't take long for Boston to answer, though. Jarrod Saltalamacchia evened the score with an RBI double to drive in Daniel Nava in the bottom of the second. The Sox scored twice in the third to take a 3-1 lead, but the Orioles quickly responded with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth. Both starters--Jake Arrieta and Ryan Dempster--departed after five, turning the game over to the bullpens.

Boston regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back homers from Nava and Jarrod Salty. The score remained 5-3 until the top of the ninth, when Baltimore rallied for five runs off Joel Hanrahan, who came within one strike of closing the door before allowing the Orioles to prop it back open. While Hanrahan was screwed over by home plate umpire Cory Blaser, he exacerbated the situation by spiking a wild pitch and making mistakes to Chris Davis and Manny Machado, both of whom took Hanrahan deep.

The Red Sox look to bounce back against Baltimore and take the rubber game of the series with (gulp) Alfredo Aceves on the bump.

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