Red Sox Recap: Edge Blue Jays In Front Of Pedro
The Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays played their first of their final two spring training games in Montreal in front of Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez.
The old Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec housed 52 682 people to watch the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, including many former Montreal Expos greats. It has been since 2004 that the Expos were moved to Washington D.C. to become the Nationals, but the city itself still pines for a major league franchise again.
Nothing was more evident than when Martinez, a former Red Sox and Expos pitching great stepped onto the field:
Martinez was the only Expos pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award, and the fans let him know it by showering him with praise, as he stepped onto the field before the game to make an announcement.
Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald covered Pedro’s words: “Anything I can do to help […] I know that if they go for a baseball team here, they’re going to need a representative and I’m willing to do anything to join, to do whatever. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do but whatever I can do, I’d love to to see Montreal have baseball back.”
Pedro has never forgotten how the Expos were the first time to really give him a chance to prove that he could be an elite pitcher. A Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony later, the Expos were proven right to back Martinez. Pedro has been very public about the fact that the Expos’ best year in 1994 was robbed of a World Series opportunity by the famous work stoppage, and that it also was responsible for breaking up that great team, eventually forcing the Expos to trade him to Boston.
Last night was a chance for Pedro to wear his number 45, the same number that the Red Sox retired, on an Expos jersey and address the crowd, something he hasn’t been able to do since the trade:
"“When I was introduced to Montreal, this is the kind of atmosphere I was introduced to […] I remember the ‘94 team, having 47,000 to 50,000 every day. Then they broke up their team. And if you continue to take the good players out, what interest is going to be there for the fans? So I’m very excited to see this tonight and hopefully everybody in baseball, especially the people who will probably invest in baseball, should hear that I know what it’s all about. And I know Montreal and I know Montreal is a baseball city.”"
His words ignited the crowd even more, making the atmosphere electric, even if it was just a spring training game for two teams not called ‘Expos’.
Yes, there was an actual game played last night, as well.
The game had its moments. Considering the game was played in Canada, many of the fans were cheering for the Blue Jays, especially when Kevin Pillar cranked a leadoff home run off of Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning. Blue Jays left fielder Michael Saunders hit a solo shot of his own to center to make it 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning.
The Blue Jays have been making a push for the last few years that they are Canada’s team, but there were some Red Sox fans in attendance. It’s easy for some Ontario citizens to forget that the city rivalry between Montreal and Boston is just as historic as the one between Quebec’s beautiful city and Toronto. Geography alone places the bond between Montrealers and Bostonians in eternal terms. So, it wasn’t surprising that, even though the Blue Jays were in town, many chants for the Expos and the Red Sox could be heard from the crowd.
Those Red Sox cheers grew louder when Xander Bogaerts grounded out off of Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ to score Mookie Betts, who doubled and advanced to third earlier in the top of the third inning. Betts continued the offense by smacking a single off of Joe Biagini to center field to score Jackie Bradley Jr. to make the score 2-2 in the top of the fifth.
It took ten innings for the deadlock to be broken, and it broke in favor of the Red Sox. Ryan LaMarre doubled off of Pat McCoy to score Mauricio Dubon and Chris Young, with most of the starters on both teams pulled at that point in the contest. Luis Ysla closed out the game, taking care of the side in order for the Red Sox victory.
- Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was given a standing ovation by the crowd in Montreal, with one young fan dressed in an Expos uniform holding a sign saying “Merci, Big Papi!” Ortiz saluted the crowd before his at-bat. He went 0-for-3 before being replaced by Pablo Sandoval, who went 0-for-2 at the plate.
- Betts was the big offensive threat for the Red Sox on this night, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Although it should also be noted that LaMarre’s hit did give the Red Sox the win.
- Bogaerts went 2-for-3 with an RBI, looking like he did last season when he hit .320 at the plate.
- The Red Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. The Blue Jays went 2-for-8, leaving nine men on base.
- Wright went 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out eight batters. If he isn’t in the equation for the starting rotation, Wright very well could be soon if the wheels fall off of the others.
Nothing but sheer class and honest love came from both Martinez and the Montreal fans, last night. Both showed how much love and respect they have for the great game of baseball. Can you just imagine if not only Montreal got another franchise in the city, but that they were put in the American League East with both the Blue Jays and the Red Sox? Every game would be an event, adding even more history between the three franchises and the three cities. Thank you Pedro for what you did for Boston and the Expos, and thank you Montreal for giving him that opportunity!