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When this season’s schedule came out, Red Sox fans circled the date of June 18, when the Los Angeles Dodgers would be at Fenway Park, for it would be the night of The Return: a former Red Sox hero coming back to the site of his glory, the most anticipated Fenway reunion in quite a long time.
Despite all the drama, the crazy rumors, and the occasional bad times during His era in Boston, Friday June 18, 2010 was still to be the night when He came back to us for the first time. Back to Fenway, the site of his dramatic game-winning home run that was replayed on NESN so often, along with his other famous plays. He would be back in town at last. Those who could get tickets would be there in person, eager to greet him with cheers or boos. Those that couldn’t be at Fenway would be figuratively glued to their TVs, eyes wide with excitement. This would be perhaps the most anticipated game of the season.
Then in late May, the Dodgers cut Nick Green, spoiling the whole thing.
Ramirez was greeted by mostly cheers, with a few boos scattered in. While everyone in the local sports media was still consulting their Applause-O-Meters to gauge the fan reaction, Ramirez quickly lined out to center on the first pitch he saw.
22-year-old rookie Felix Doubront was Friday’s starting pitcher for the Red Sox, making his major league debut. He pitched pretty well, touching 95 with his fastball, and mostly registered 92 or 93 on the (quite suspect) Fenway radar gun.
Another rookie, Carlos Monasterios, was the starter for the Dodgers. (I’m pretty sure that in his spare time, Monasterios works as a masked Mexican wrestler.)
The Red Sox grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning, with David Ortiz belting a 2-run HR and J.D. Drew a solo shot (that had to be vetted by video review before Drew was allowed to finish his home run trot.)
After Doubront started with two scoreless innings, he ran into trouble in the third, as the Dodgers posted a three-run rally to tie the score. Doubront’s error on a dropped toss from Youkilis at first base led to two unearned runs, and Matt Kemp’s RBI triple was the big hit of the inning. Drew appeared to pull his hamstring while making a running catch to end the inning, and had to leave the game.
Monasterios seemingly settled down and blanked Boston for three innings, with the score remaining tied until the 5th.
Then suddenly, the Red Sox exploded. Dustin Pedroia started the rally with a single, then David Ortiz walked. Kevin Youkilis belted an RBI double, just beyond Kemp’s diving effort, knocking Monasterios out of the game.
Reliever Ramon Troncoso entered, and was utterly pummeled: he gave up a line-drive RBI single to Darnell McDonald, and then a tremendously crushed 2-run HR over the Green Monster, over Landsdowne Street, onto the parking garage, by Adrian Beltre, (who fell onto one knee while sending the ball into low-level orbit.)
The beating continued when Jason Varitek drilled a double off the wall in left, followed by a single to left by Mike Cameron.
Troncoso then crossed-up his catcher, resulting a passed ball, and finally hit Daniel Nava with a pitch, his nightmarish performance coming to an end after only 15 comical pitches.
By the end of the inning, seven Boston runners had crossed the plate, blowing the game wide open.
L.A. responded in the 6th, scoring two quick runs off Doubront with three straight hits, then loading the bases with no one out.
Mop-up man Scott Atchison was called on to put out the fire and he did, pulling a miraculous escape like Harry Houdini, as he whiffed Garrett Anderson and Jamey Carroll, then ended the threat by getting Matt Kemp to ground out.
Atchison went on to dominate the middle innings of the game, fanning six Dodgers in his three perfect innings of relief work.
A week after making a late-notice emergency start, and hours after not being cut (as the Sox chose to designate Boof Bonser for assignment instead) Atchinson completely silenced the Dodgers with by far his best performance of the year.
In the 9th, Dustin Richardson came on, and immediately allowed a home run to the corpse of Garrett Anderson, followed by singles to Matt Kemp and Russell Martin.
So with the score 10-6, and two runners on base with one out, Daniel Bard had to come in and pitch yet another game, adding to his league-leading total.
10-6, Boston was the final. Felix Doubront registered his first big league win in his debut.
With the Yankees and Tampa losing yet again, the Red Sox suddenly find themselves only one game out of first place. And Nick Green just signed with Toronto, so circle your calendars for his big return to Fenway on August 20 (unless he gets cut again before then).
Tags: Adrian Beltre, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront debut, Joe Torre, Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Being Manny, Manny Ramirez returns to Boston, Matt Kemp, Nick Green, Red Sox, Roger Clemens, Scott Atchinson