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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

Management's got it covered

Hitters could see why plan worked

For years, the seats in the center-field triangle have been covered by a black tarp during day games, in order to provide hitters a backdrop unimpeded by white shirts that would make it difficult to pick up the baseball leaving a pitcher's hand.

But yesterday afternoon, Sox management came up with an ingenious way to make use of those seats, helping them to resolve how to accommodate the spectators who had purchased those seats for Tuesday's night game, which was rained out and made up yesterday.

The 420 fans who had seats in the two affected sections, 34 and 35, were given green T-shirts and a handbill asking them not to move around except between half-innings. Duct tape also was placed over the seat numbers, so as not to pick up any reflections.

"The players and staff were told about it yesterday," manager Terry Francona said. "I talked to Lou [Piniella, the Tampa Bay manager] this morning and told him about it. We wouldn't do anything that would affect the integrity of the game."

The addition of those seats helped the Sox draw a crowd of 35,614, the largest since Sept. 28, 1990. Another 35,441 were on hand last night, the 11th sellout of the season and 75th consecutive sellout.

Tough out

When Johnny Damon grounded into a double play in the seventh inning of Game 1, it was his first GIDP of the season, in his 71st at-bat . . . While Derek Jeter of the Yankees broke his 0-for-32 streak with a first-at-bat home run last night in New York, Tampa Bay's Jose Cruz Jr. was hitless in two at-bats in the first game and 0 for 3 in the second, extending his hitless streak to 33 at-bats, and within one of the franchise-worst 0 for 34 by Greg Vaughn in 2002 . . . Trot Nixon played right field for five innings and was hitless in four at-bats in an extended spring training game yesterday in Fort Myers, Fla. Nixon apparently had some soreness in a quadriceps muscle, but it was unrelated to his back condition . . . Lefthander Phil Seibel, optioned to the minors to make room for Byung Hyun Kim, pitched in Portland last night in place of Kim, who had been scheduled to make a rehab start there, then will join Triple A Pawtucket . . . With two doubles and a home run in the first game, David Ortiz had at least one extra-base hit in nine consecutive games, only the third Sox player to do so since 1977. Butch Hobson did it in 1977, and Bill Mueller last season . . . Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram noted this oddity after the Sox won Game 1: In each of the last four seasons, the Sox have been 14-6 after 20 games.

Taking a dive

Other than plays made by Sox ballboys, the night's defensive gem was Gabe Kapler's diving catch of Rocco Baldelli's liner to right in the third inning . . . Tim Wakefield's two scoreless innings in Game 1 came in his first relief appearance since May 6 . . . Pokey Reese, who sat out two games with a respiratory infection, played shortstop last night and had a pair of singles and two RBIs . . . Manny Ramirez, who went down on strikes three times against Tampa Bay ace Victor Zambrano in the afternoon, had two singles in the nightcap, his 12th multihit game of the season. Rangers shortstop Mike Young leads the American League with 13 multihit games . . . Ortiz's home run on a 3-and-0 count was the second in a little more than a week by a Sox player. Doug Mirabelli went deep on a 3-and-0 pitch from Ted Lilly April 21 in Toronto . . . The Sox wore their alternate, red jerseys in the nightcap . . . Brian Daubach, making his first start since his recall from Pawtucket Tuesday, was charged with an error when Carl Crawford's ground ball short-hopped him in the first inning of Game 1, but he doubled and scored on Mark Bellhorn's sacrifice fly in the sixth . . . David McCarty, who began the day without an RBI, was credited with his first when he was hit by a pitch from Travis Harper with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of Game 1 . . . Jason Varitek, who hit a three-run home run Wednesday night, now has two of the four Sox three-run home runs this season after connecting off lefthander Damian Moss in the second game . . . It's official: Jimmy Buffett will play Fenway Park Sept. 10 and 12. Tickets go on sale May 8 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster outlets, through Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 617-228-6000. Tickets will also be available at the Orpheum Theater box office, and through teapartyconcerts.com. No tickets will be sold at Fenway Park. Tickets are $80, plus a $1 donation to Singing for Change Charitable Foundation . . . In a response to fan suggestions, the Sox are asking spectators not to return to their seats during an at-bat. 

In Today's Globe
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