Baseball was back in Boston this afternoon for the first time since Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. And the Fenway faithful went home happy.
Capping off an emotional day, Daniel Nava delivered a dramatic three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Royals. The Red Sox have now won seven straight and sit at 12-4 on the young season.
Nava’s blast off Kelvin Herrera made a winner out of Clay Buchholz, who gave up two runs over eight innings. He’s now 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 29/11 K/BB ratio in 30 innings over his first four starts.
Andrew Bailey made things interesting in the ninth inning by giving up a leadoff homer to Lorenzo Cain and putting the tying run on second base with two outs, but he managed to get Alex Gordon to ground out to end it. He has saves in three straight games since blowing his first chance in the Patriots’ Day game on Monday.
After his pointed comments during the pre-game ceremony, David Ortiz went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in his season debut. Oh, and Neil Diamond also showed up to lead the crowd in “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth inning. All in all, a pretty great day for Boston.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: