Whiplash ends Panda's big night, but he's OK
Third baseman hits two-run single, solo homer, makes diving catch
BOSTON -- Pablo Sandoval might not have played a complete game for the Red Sox on Monday night at Fenway Park, but he sure did put on a clinic for the time he was around.
The third baseman exited with whiplash in the top of the sixth inning, but only after producing his best all-around game since joining his new team.
Sandoval was in good spirits after a 6-5, walk-off win over the Blue Jays, and he fully plans on playing on Tuesday night.
The neck pain came from a spectacular tumbling catch Sandoval made in the top of the fourth inning on a bunt by Dalton Pompey. As Sandoval belly-flopped to the Fenway turf, his face also had a crash landing.
"I'll be fine tomorrow," said Sandoval. "It's sore, but part of the game. Have to take one for the team."
In the bottom of the fourth, Sandoval still felt well enough to hit an absolute bullet of a home run into the visitors' bullpen in right field. The ball looked like a laser beam, and it marked the first Fenway homer in Sandoval's career. On Sunday, Sandoval hit his first homer in a Boston uniform at Camden Yards.
"He's just an outstanding fastball hitter," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "And he can hit pitches in so many different areas. We know that [Blue Jays starter Aaron] Sanchez tries to finish some hitters off with fastballs that run back in, particularly left-handers. It doesn't quite get to the spot, and [Sandoval is] able to turn around, mid- to upper-90s. Yesterday in Baltimore, he took a couple of really good swings. Left-handed, he's in a really good place."
With the Red Sox down, 3-0, Sandoval ripped a two-run single to the base of the Green Monster in the bottom of the first.
"Like I say, you have ups and downs during the season. You work hard to get your rhythm going," said Sandoval. "I've been working hard in the cage with [hitting coaches] Chili [Davis] and [Victor] Rodriguez."