BOSTON -- J.J. Hardy proved to be pretty pesky for the Red Sox on Tuesday night.The Orioles' shortstop twice got the best of the famed Pesky's Pole at Fenway Park, bending a pair around the famed ballpark landmark and into the seats on a five-RBI night that helped lead the
BOSTON -- J.J. Hardy proved to be pretty pesky for the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The Orioles' shortstop twice got the best of the famed Pesky's Pole at Fenway Park, bending a pair around the famed ballpark landmark and into the seats on a five-RBI night that helped lead the undefeated Orioles to a 9-5 series win over the Red Sox.
"I don't think I hit one ball to the right of second base during batting practice," Hardy said. "The first one I think was a pretty decent swing. It was just kind of protect with two strikes. I think the wind helped a little bit, just pushed it around the pole. And then the second one, I mean it was a popup, either a foul ball or an out in most ballparks. I'll take them."
Hardy got the Orioles (7-0) on the board in the fourth, sending starter Clay Buchholz's 0-1 fastball into the right-field seats. The perfectly-placed homer, which held up under a crew-chief review, marked his first of the season. After a sacrifice fly as part of a three-run sixth inning, Hardy homered again in the seventh. This time it came off reliever Robbie Ross Jr. on a 2-1 fastball, another two-run shot that mirrored his first.
It was Hardy's first multihomer game since Aug. 8, 2014, against the Cardinals. The shortstop, who arrived at Spring Training saying he felt the best he's felt in a long time, missed all of April last year with an injury and is hoping to regain some of his power in 2016.
But that's not to say he didn't get a fair amount of ribbing from teammates for both of his "blasts" on Tuesday night, which were the shortest homers hit in the Majors so far this season according to Statcast™. His first homer traveled a projected distance of 314 feet, while his second long ball was projected at 328 feet.
"He said, 'It's not my park, I didn't build it,'" manager Buck Showalter said of Hardy's defense. "I said, 'Don't feel bad, you are going to hit some home runs to straightaway center field that someone's going to track down.' You like to see good things happen to good people. He put good swings on those balls. They would have been extra-base hits, regardless of the distance."
Hardy was fine taking the teasing, particularly since the Tuesday's five RBIs marked his highest single-game total since Sept. 1, 2012.
"I got worn out by all my teammates for the first one and I just knew I was going to get worn out again," said Hardy, who had a big smile on his face as he circled the bases. "[They were saying things like], 'Both of your home runs didn't add up to what [Mark] Trumbo's was.' Just little stuff, lucky stuff. I'll take it though."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.