BOSTON -- Tuesday night represented Ryan Kalish’s first game at Fenway Park since Oct. 3, 2010. It was also Cody Ross’s first game with the Red Sox after a month spent recovering from a foot injury.
Those firsts are not the only reasons the two will remember Tuesday's game for some time to come.
Kalish had an adventurous night in center field, to say the least. He misplayed one ball that bounced at the base of the Green Monster, completely dropped another and nearly misplayed a third. The 24-year-old also had a nice sliding grab on a sinking liner for the first out of the game and a fine running catch in the triangle in center to end the top of the eighth inning and help preserve a 7-5 lead over the Miami Marlins.
That would be the final score, which allowed Kalish to look back on the night with an upbeat attitude.
“Obviously I can smile about it now, but at the time I wasn’t,” he said of the drop in the top of the seventh. “I just dropped it. There is no excuse for that. It won’t happen again.”
The first of Kalish’s misplays came in the fifth. With two on and two out, Marlins designated hitter Logan Morrison ripped a ball toward the center-field side of the Monster. Kalish made an early decision to play the bounce instead of racing all the way to the wall and attempting to make the catch. That left him watching as the ball hit near the base of the wall, where he might have been standing.
Two runs scored to tie the game at 5.
The Sox had a 7-5 lead entering the seventh when Miami shortstop Jose Reyes smacked a shot in almost the exact same spot. This time, Kalish drifted under the ball and sized up what appeared to be a semi-routine catch. But the ball bounced off the center fielder’s glove and rolled around long enough for the speedy Reyes to scamper into third.
It was a three-base error that gave the Marlins a great opportunity to halve their deficit.
But the Boston bullpen has become accustomed to escaping such situations. Matt Albers, who had relieved Clay Buchholz to start the inning, teamed with lefty Andrew Miller to keep Reyes at third and the Marlins had only one other threat. That came in the eighth when Kalish hauled in Gaby Sanchez’s 400-foot drive with a man on second.
One reason for Kalish’s ability to keep his head in the game was Ross, who not only homered in his return to the lineup but acted as Kalish’s support system. The two shared a meaningful talk during a break in the game.
“He’s such a good outfielder,” Ross said. “This place can get the best of you. I’ve had my troubles out there as well and I just told him that. I said, ‘Listen, man, we’ve all done it. We’ve all dropped fly balls. I dropped one this year already. I’ve misplayed a few balls. It happens. Shake it off. You’re a great outfielder and we’re going to get out of this right here.’
“The bullpen came in and did a great job of not letting them get that run in right there.”
Kalish said he told Ross that the drop was the “most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.” Speaking like a true veteran who’s experienced the highs and lows of the game, Ross was quick to put it into perspective.
“He said, ‘If that’s the most embarrassing thing you have ever done then you’re going to be all right,'” Kalish said.
Several Red Sox players answered questions before the game about the reported poor atmosphere of their clubhouse. The affable Ross was one of the more vocal defenders, saying the clubhouse is "one of the better ones I have ever been in." Hours later, Ross' ability to calm the talented young center fielder, with whom he had never played before, was a small but vital show of togetherness.