The starting pitchers Monday night at Fenway Park were a pair of left-handers, one a perennial contender for the American League Cy Young award and the other a strong candidate for the AL All-Star team next month.
Chris Sale and Mike Minor was as good as advertised, and the game between early AL wild-card contenders was a good one two. Just when it look as if the Texas Rangers would spoil Sale’s solid outing, the Boston Red Sox spoiled Minor’s.
The Rangers, though, found a way to win 4-3 in 11 innings.
But the lefty on the minds of everyone in Boston was the beloved former Red Sox lefty slugger who was shot Sunday night in the Dominican Republic.
David Ortiz has survived the hard part, the Red Sox have been told, but they sent a plane to Santo Domingo to bring him to Boston so that he can continue to heal at Massachusetts General Hospital.
He is in serious condition while being treated for bleeding in his liver and recovering from surgery that removed his gall bladder and pieces of his intestines.
Ortiz’s plight has also made Texas Rangers players from the Dominican Republic reconsider how often they will return home and, if and when they do, how they will make sure they are safe.
“It’s never happened to a guy that big in the Dominican Republic,” Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara said. “You never know. People are crazy. If it happened to him, it definitely can happen to anyone.”
Sale struck out 10 in seven innings to barely get the best of Minor, who allowed two runs in eight innings. They came in the first as Mookie Betts took a leadoff walk and Andrew Benintendi followed with a home run.
Mazara came up with the big hit for the Rangers, a two-run single in the ninth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit. Another Dominican, Danny Santana, started the rally with a single and also drove in the Rangers’ only run against Sale in the sixth inning.
But Shawn Kelley couldn’t shut down the ninth inning, allowing a two-out RBI single to pinch hitter Brock Holt. Elvis Andrus, though, singled in Santana in the 11th, and Chris Martin finally closed down the Red Sox.
Santana collected four hits, including a double to start the 11th.
Ortiz is a national hero and one of the most beloved people in the Dominican Republic. The Rangers didn’t learn he had been shot until after their flight to Boston landed early Monday morning.
No one could believe what happened.
“I was super shocked. I’m still shocked,” first baseman Ronald Guzman said. “David Ortiz is someone that has so much love and so much respect, and he has promoted the Dominican Republic so much. Everybody knows he’s one of the icon. If it happens to him, no one’s safe. He someone I would say 99.9% of Dominicans respect.”
Mazara, from Santo Domingo, and Guzman, from La Vega to the north, will both reconsider how much time they spend in the Dominican Republic during future off-seasons. They might go for a few weeks around Christmas to see family, they said.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez already splits his time between the Dominican Republic and Miami. He doesn’t go out much but takes two armed security guards with him when he does.
When he’s at home, the guard stand outside the gate to his home.
“My house has everything I need,” Volquez said.
Mazara said that his security guard is the same man who once guarded his father, a high-ranking official in the Dominican navy. Guzman, who will become a father in September, said his mother has warned him about trouble lurking on the streets.
A ballplayer doesn’t need to be as popular as Ortiz, Pedro Martinez or Adrian Beltre, who lives full time near Los Angeles. Players of all experience levels have to be guarded when not in their homes.
“I’m not nearly as close to being as known and respected as him, but who knows?” Guzman said. “I guess I’ll listen to my mom a little more. I know she’s going to call me and say, ‘You see what I’ve been telling you?’ There’s so much danger out in the streets, that’s why she doesn’t want me to go out. I don’t think I want to go out ever.”