Fenway Park: Absolute Bedlam

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BOSTON — In between the third and fourth inning of Game 6, the Boston Police Department issued a statement that the Bars around Fenway Park were at full capacity so, please, don’t bother coming down here. Based on what I saw in and around Fenway Park this evening, I am 100% certain that no one heeded that request. There’s no moving on those streets down there as I write this, and most of the fans in attendance tonight haven’t even left the ballpark yet.

I’d never been to Fenway Park before, but I didn’t need anyone to tell me that, in terms of electricity and excitement, what was going on here was something different, something new. But they told me anyway. A writer I know who gets to Fenway often said he’d never heard it this loud or seen it this crazy. A reader who lives in the Kenmore Square area tweeted to tell me that he’s been out in the neighborhood this evening and he’d never heard anything like it before. Heck, midway through the game a couple of fans just waltzed into the press box, beers and hand, and decided it’d be a good place to hang out. It was quite the scene.

But that was just the looney stuff. The exuberance that comes after the game is truly decided and everyone starts the long party. It couldn’t compare at all to what was going on in the third and fourth innings.

The auxiliary press box was my home at Fenway tonight. It’s way out in section 3 of the right field grandstand and is surrounded by fans who bought tickets. And, while all of the tickets for tonight’s game were expensive, these are, comparatively speaking, the cheap seats. And as everyone knows, the cheap seats are the loudest seats. I was generally able to hear myself think for the first couple of innings, but then in the third David Ortiz was being intentionally walked and a chorus of boos rained down. Then Mike Napoli struck out. Then Shane Victorino came up:

“Don’t worry … ’bout a thing …

“CAUSE EVERY LITTLE THING, GONNA BE ALRIGHT!!!!!”

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It sounds moderately cheesy on TV. It is absolutely electric in person.  But that didn’t compare a lick to the sound that emanated from the 38,447 in attendance when Victorino smacked the fourth Michael Wacha pitch he saw off the Green Monster. I would say that, an inning later, Stephen Drew’s solo homer jacked them up again but that would be misleading because they hadn’t yet come down. By the time Victorino came to the plate again — following Jacoby Ellsbury’s double and walks to David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes — it was absolute bedlam. When Victorino singled in Ortiz to make it 6-0, the rafters rattled.

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There were still five innings to go, but Boston knew it had its third World Series championship in ten years. And Boston isn’t going to sleep until the sun comes up tomorrow morning.

Brewers hold off the Dodgers to force Game 7 of the NLCS

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Down 3-2 in the NLCS, the Brewers faced a must-win situation during Game 6 on Friday. Any residual uncertainty they might have felt about their chances of extending the series was all but resolved in the first inning, however, when Jesús Aguilar, Mike Moustakas, and Erik Kratz combined for a four-run spread to take an early lead. Powered by those early-game RBI, as well as masterful performances from Wade Miley, Corey Knebel, and Corbin Burnes, the club surged to a 7-2 win to pull even with the Dodgers and force a Game 7 tiebreaker.

Left-hander Wade Miley trounced the Dodgers in 4 1/3 innings of two-run, four-strikeout ball. He was bested by David Freese in the very first at-bat of the night, which culminated with a 402-footer to right field to put Los Angeles on the board, 1-0. After a few scoreless innings from the Dodgers, Freese returned to torment Miley in the top of the fifth, this time with an RBI double that narrowed the Brewers’ advantage from four runs to three.

Things didn’t go nearly as smoothly for opposing lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. In the bottom of the first inning, Ryu allowed a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain, followed by a four-pitch walk to Ryan Braun. Jesús Aguilar came up to bat with two out and two on, then smacked a two-RBI line drive double to right field. Moustakas and Kratz went back-to-back-to-back with Aguilar, putting up another three runs on an RBI double and single, respectively.

The Brewers kept rolling in the second inning. Christian Yelich and Braun each collected a double off of Ryu, bringing Milwaukee’s lead to 5-1 over Los Angeles. Braun advanced to third on a Travis Shaw groundout, but with Aguilar up to bat, Ryu wasn’t going to chance a repeat of the Dodgers’ first-inning debacle. He intentionally walked Aguilar, then whiffed Moustakas on three straight fastballs to cap the inning.

By the time both Miley and Ryu were forced from the mound, the Brewers stood 5-2 above their opponents. Right-hander Corey Knebel worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, striking out Manny Machado to eliminate another potential rally from the Dodgers in the fifth inning and retiring all four batters in the sixth (save for Joc Pederson, who reached base after taking a 96.3-MPH fastball to the wrist). The righty received another significant opportunity to do some damage against the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth, when he came up to bat for the first time in his professional career with the bases loaded and two outs… but saw just four pitches before swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

After Ryu’s unexpected departure in the third, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts cycled through five pitchers — Julio Urías, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and Kenta Maeda — in an attempt to squelch the Brewers’ comeback. The bullpen combined for four consecutive scoreless frames, but was ultimately foiled in the seventh, when, with runners on second and third and two outs, a wild pitch from Maeda ricocheted off the front of home plate and allowed Aguilar to plate yet another insurance run. Still not content with a two-hit, two-RBI performance, Aguilar came back in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single — only moments after a failed double play that would have ended the inning — to bring the Brewers to a cushy 7-2 advantage as they entered the ninth.

No similar last-minute rallies awaited the Dodgers there. Rookie right-hander Corbin Burnes orchestrated another flawless 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, retiring Pederson and Puig with consecutive strikeouts and inducing a game-inning, series-extending pop-up from Matt Kemp to wrap the win.

Game 7 is set for 8:09 PM EDT on Saturday. The starters for both clubs have yet to be announced.