Ortiz has made Yankees fans uneasy since he arrived in Boston in 2003, particularly during one-run games. Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right augments the anxiety, a double-edged sword that can benefit visiting lefty sluggers as much as those dressed in pinstripes.
With a 1-2 count, Thornton threw a slider that caught too much plate and Big Papi drove it deep to right center field. For a couple of seconds, it seemed as though the game would be tied or, at the very least, that the Sox would have the tying run in scoring position.
On a dead run, Ichiro Suzuki made an incredible leaping catch as he hit the wall and fell to the warning track. What’s more amazing is that Ichiro, the Yankees’ fourth outfielder, was only in the game because a Francisco Cervelli injury forced Carlos Beltran to play first base.
The catch proved to be a game-saver. David Phelps relieved Thornton and allowed a double, a hit by pitch and a walk before he struck out Mike Carp to end the inning. Suffice to say, the Red Sox would have scored Ortiz’s run and maybe more had it not been for Ichiro’s defense.
He may be 40 years old, but he can evidently still motor and patrol right field as well as players half his age. Ichiro could continue to be used as a late-game defensive replacement (there’s no way Beltran makes that catch) or as a trade piece if another team believes he’s got enough left in the tank. At the very least, he’s already given the Yankees one more win.