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Hillenbrand, Nomar, Monster Figure in Weekend Jays Series

Andrew C. Thomas


Last weekend’s series against the Blue Jays showed that baseball at Fenway Park is many things: exciting, mercurial, and in desperate need of change.

The weekend opened up with the Red Sox twice routing the Jays 7-3 and 7-2. With all the momentum going into Sunday’s game, it was a surprise when the Blue Jays shocked the crowd by taking a 5-0 lead on starting southpaw Casey Fossum.

Neither the team nor the crowd would quit, though, as the Sox slowly climbed their way back to a tie, when Nomar Garciaparra delighted the crowd with a walkoff home run into the newly christened Green Monster seats to win the game 6-5.

The seats, priced modestly at $50 a pop, give a great view of the infield; only those in the front row, though, can see left and center field with a minimum of obstruction. They do make the building seem more complete. At the very least, we can now see the wave go all the way around the park without interruption.

Monday's game was scheduled to begin at 11:05 am, to accomodate the horrendous scheduling difficulty of the running of the Boston Marathon, whose final leg down Commonwealth Avenue was two blocks from the game.

To signal the beginning of the marathon, a pair of F-15 fighter jets looped overhead in formation, which drew immense applause from the sellout crowd at Fenway. The gesture didn't help the team; as the flyby happened, Blue Jays shortstop Chris Woodward drilled a pitch into the Monster seats with a man on to bring the score to 7-0, making him the only non-superstar in recent memory to have his home run cheered at an enemy ballpark.

By the end, the bullpen by committee couldn’t hold things together for a Red Sox comeback, which at one point brought the score to 9-6. After starter Burkett’s shellacking of 7 runs in less than 3 innings, Steve Woodard allowed 2 in long relief, including another Monster shot by Vernon Wells. Backup utility man Dave Berg and catcher Greg Myers each hit long shots off Ramiro Mendoza and Brandon Lyon.

Notable in both games was the excellent play of Shea Hillenbrand at third base. Nomar was rewarded with Monday off, after the game-winning home run and excellent defensive play on Sunday. He was seen in the on-deck circle in the eighth on Monday during a threatening offensive but didn’t see the inning last long enough for him to come to bat. Manny Ramirez went 4-for-5 Monday, though only managed to score once and drove none in.