Red Sox reflect on tragedy in Texas

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Red Sox reflect on tragedy in Texas

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON In the Red Sox clubhouse before Fridays game against the Orioles, the mood was somewhat subdued. Much of the talk was about the tragedy at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, Thursday when a fan was killed, falling from the stands trying to catch a ball tossed to him by Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton.

The players expressed sympathy for the victim, Shannon Stone, a firefighter who was at the game with his 6-year-old son Cooper, as well as for Hamilton.

Its an unfortunate situation, said Darnell McDonald. Obviously, you dont ever want to see something like that happen. You want to get the fans involved when they come to a game and watch a game. You like to give them a ball. But its just a real freak thing.

As a player you dont want to see anything like that happen to a fan. So, it definitely makes me think twice about throwing a ball up there. I dont want to be the guy that throws a ball and something like that happens. So, might just have to wait till after the game or something.

I feel bad for that persons family, said David Ortiz. Nobody on the baseball field want to see something like that going down. I know Josh got to feel bad about what happened. But its not like he planned it or anything like that. You dont have to feel bad for what he did because that wasnt his idea.

The players could relate to Hamilton, and what he might be going through right now.

That could have been anybody, McDonald said. Its just a freak thing. Its unfortunate it happened to him. But thats something that could have happened to any one of us as a player.

You feel bad for him, because you know that's probably going to stick with him the rest of his life, said Carl Crawford. You never want to have a situation like that where you know you're thinking about something like that in the back of your head.

Whether or not MLB will or should issue directives instructing players when, how, or if they can throw balls into the stands remains to be seen. But, as Ortiz pointed out, its difficult to legislate everything.

What happened was an accident, he said. How many times do we hit foul balls that people try to catch? You going to tell us not to hit foul balls, too?

Accidents are going to happen and what can you do about it? Just because youre tossing a ball to a fan doesnt mean youre going to kill him or you expect something like that to happen. It happens one every 5000 times or probably more. Its sad, man, when you have things going down like that. I know that Hamilton is feeling awful right now because everythings going down in his face like that. You pray for the victims family. Its sad to see things going down like that. But we all come to the field to have fun and to make sure the audience and the fans have fun. Thats the last thing going through your head.

Fenway Park has not had such an incident. But with seats atop the 37-foot Green Monster, added before the 2003 season, there is a horrifying specter that it could happen.

You have the Green Monster right here, said Crawford. Any time you throw the ball, it kind of reaches and then a fan reaches over a little bit. You just hope nothing bad happens.

You don't like to think that's going to happen all the time. You want to think positive and think that they could judge the ball better not to reach over if it doesn't reach. So, you want to think the ballpark's completely safe.I dont think anyone thinks something like a death is going to happen, especially over a baseball, said McDonald. But now that something like this has happened, its got us all thinking. We're just going to have to use different ways and do different things to get fans souvenirs.

Thats the last thing going through your head, said Ortiz. Sometimes I have tossed balls to the fans and when I see people jumping out of nowhere trying to catch it. You go, Hey, whats going on? Its just a baseball. But what we do is just trying to please the fans, not trying to let anybody get hurt."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

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Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?