By the time we got to the 9th inning we were knotted at 6. With no chance at a save situation presenting itself at this point, manager John Farrell turned to his new closer to get him through the frame and give his offense a chance to win it in the bottom of the inning. “Welcome to the Jungle” blared through the stadium’s speakers as Craig Kimbrel burst out of the bullpen to a video introduction that showcased images of the closer surrounded by fire. It was supposed to signify Kimbrel’s blazing fastball that can touch the upper 90’s, but instead it merely foreshadowed his outing going down in flames.
Kimbrel retired the first batter he faced, but walked two of the next three before Chris Davis sent one of his pitches on to the tarp in the center field bleachers. It was the first time Kimbrel had ever faced Davis and the first time he had ever given up a 3-run homer. Baltimore’s three-run lead sucked the life out of the crowd, sending many fans fleeing for the exits.
But the Red Sox would not go quietly. A lead-off home run from Mookie Betts re-energized the crowd, sparking hope that a comeback was possible. Dustin Pedroia followed with a base hit, then Xander Bogaerts walked, setting up the scenario Red Sox fans could only dream of – Ortiz at the plate with a chance for a walk-off homer.
It was all set up for a dramatic finish, but the ending turned out to be rather anti-climatic. Ortiz grounded into a double-play and Hanley Ramirez struck out to end the game. It was an exciting final frame that got the crowd buzzing until the final pitch, but the result was a bitter disappointment. You could see the shock on everyone’s face when Ortiz failed to deliver. We expect him to come through in these clutch situations, which goes to show how good he is. He’s done it so many times before. Hopefully we aren’t done seeing Ortiz pull off a miraculous clutch hit, it just didn’t happen today.
The Orioles remain undefeated, while the Red Sox fall to .500 through six games. It was hardly a perfect day, but aside from the final score there wasn’t a whole lot for fans to complain about. The Fenway opener is always an experience to be savored, no matter how it turns out.
Next: Observations from the stands