While the entire baseball universe watched one particular Yankee legend ride his way out of baseball, a crowd at Fenway Park got a glimpse of the future ahead.
A pair of Red Sox rookies homered for the first time in their careers. And Boston marched to an 11-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Christian Vazquez clobbered a two-run home run over the Green Monster in the second inning for his first career long ball. It came off of former AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson and broke an early 1-1 tie. Cuban import Rusney Castillo followed that up an inning later when he shot a ball over the Monster further over toward center field.
Castillo's homer scored three runs and came off of Tampa Bay's first of six relief pitchers of the night, Steven Geitz. The two milestones each come on the heels of Wednesday night's game that saw Garin Cecchini collect his first career MLB home run.
But Thursday's rookie accomplishments did come at awfully different times for Vazquez and Castillo. For the Red Sox catcher, it had been a long time coming. Vazquez, who has been praised for his stellar defense behind the plate, has struggled with the bat.
It took him 53 games and 168 at-bats to finally crack one over the wall. But it was a welcome site for Boston fans. The homer started a four-hit night for Vazquez, who has now bumped his average all the way up to .238 with a recent four-game hitting streak.
Castillo hasn't even been in the United States for 53 game's worth of baseball; and he's been at the big league level for even less time than that. The 27-year-old Cuban star arrived Stateside in late August, just before being announced as a member of the Red Sox organization. Castillo immediately went to Pawtucket, where he gained experience in Triple-A and was called up for the last two weeks in September. His first MLB home run comes just seven games into what the Red Sox hope will be a long and effective career in Fenway Park's center field.
Also lost in the events was a great start from another Red Sox rookie, Allen Webster. Webster went a full seven innings for the first time in his career to get the win and continue to string together quality starts to end his season. His seven inning, one-run performance slashes his ERA to 5.03, which entered September at 6.69. He's walked just one in each of his last three starts and hasn't given up more than two runs in any.
If Boston wants to complete the same type of turnaround that it did in 2013, you better believe two - if not all three - of these Red Sox rookies will need to make a major impact in their sophomore seasons.
Thursday night may have been the start all three needed.
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