The infamous Pine Tar Game — in which the umps overturned a George Brett home run against the Yankees which led to pandemonium — took place 30 years ago this month. Today the Wall Street Journal has a take on it that I’d never heard before: the batboy who kinda helped unleash the pandemonium.
The batboy’s name is Merritt Riley. He’s 47 now, but at the time he was a huge George Brett fanboy and, after the home run, rather than take the illegal bat back to the dugout where it would have blended in with all of the others, he waited at home plate in order to give Brett a high-five. Rick Cerone took the bat from him, Billy Martin pointed it out to the umps and the rest was history.
The story catches up with Riley and Brett, each of whom have a pretty good attitude about it now. Nice stuff.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.