If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Jackie Bradley Jr., he of the .198 batting average in 423 plate appearances just a season ago, blasted a shot to deep right-center field for a home run. It was his second of the day.
I turned to my dad to high-five him. “What?” I shouted, incredulous and wide-eyed.
The offensive outburst for the Red Sox–the team went on to win the game 22-10 and Bradley Jr. collected two home runs and three doubles–was the best welcome home present I could’ve asked for. Boston (51-64) had played horrendous baseball all summer while I watched from my apartment in New Jersey. I watched every other game, inevitably catching a Rick Porcello shellacking or a Wade Miley walk-fest. (But hey, Miley works quickly, so the poor play was over quickly.)
Miley was on the hill again that day, against “King” Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. My dad had won a raffle for seats in the New England Sports Network box so I told him that while the seats would be great, the game wouldn’t.
King Felix (14-6, 3.11 ERA) is one of the best pitchers in the American League, albeit all of baseball. Miley (6-7, 4.68) wasn’t one of the worst, but he was close.
And 2.1 innings later, King Felix–the great King Felix–had been chased from the game after allowing 10 runs across 12 hits, including three home runs.
Sitting at a restaurant-style bar seat outside the box enjoying non-baseball foods like sushi and diced fruits and veggies we cheered as the parade of Red Sox hitters came to the plate and, inexplicably, got hits. In a very non-Red Sox fashion, the team played well. Well, for seven innings. Then, Miley departed and relievers combined to give up eight runs over the last two innings. That made me smile–if only because the Sox had a comfortable, still double-digit lead. It made me see the same team I watched all summer was still there.
But that afternoon, as my father and I cheered on a potent Red Sox offense–the team hadn’t scored that many runs in one game since 1912–it was a wonderful welcome home.