The past week has been a roller coaster of emotions for best friends and now former St. Louis Cardinals teammates Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller. Just prior to the July 31 trade deadline, Kelly learned via social media that he had been traded to the Boston Red Sox in a deal that brought veteran right-hander John Lackey back to St. Louis, which meant for the first time in his professional career, he was no longer a part of the same organization as Miller.
A bitter pill to swallow, especially for friends who are close enough to serve as the other's best man at their weddings, which was recently the case. However, in a twist to the story that only seems possible in baseball, both were quickly reunited on Wednesday night in St. Louis. Not as friends or teammates, of course, but as opponents on the mound.
It was basically a Hollywood script playing out in real life. And in a subplot that fits their story, or just about any friendship's, perfectly, they decided to add some incentive to their matchup by agreeing to a wager.
“He said if he gets a hit off me, I owe him $100," Miller said. "I’m going to invite him over (Tuesday), keep him up, see how long we can play video games until the morning. See how long he can last.”
Simple enough, but if we were being honest going in, the best bet would have been on neither guy getting a hit. Kelly entered the game hitting only .154 for his career, while Miller came in hitting .132. However, both proved to be tough outs in their first plate appearances. With two outs in the second inning, Miller ended up drawing a four-pitch walk, which really is as good as a hit from the pitcher's spot in the order. Unfortunately for Miller, that wasn't the bet.
Miller should have negotiated winnings for a walk, as he just took four straight balls from Kelly. Their $100 wager was for a hit. #stlcards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) August 7, 2014
One half inning later, Kelly hit a slow roller that he appeared to beat out, but umpire Gary Cederstrom disagreed. Red Sox manager John Farrell officially called for a challenge, which meant the $100 wager came down to a replay officials ruling in New York.
The call, and the bet, ended up going in Kelly's favor.
The replay shows that Kelly was safe, and just like that, he's $100 richer by getting a hit off his best friend, #STLCards Shelby Miller.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 7, 2014
Fittingly enough, both pitchers ended up throwing seven innings of one-run ball and were rewarded with no-decisions in Boston's eventual 2-1 win. Nothing was settled there, although Miller did strike out Kelly in his second at-bat while Miller himself laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Most would agree though that it was Kelly's night, not only because of his hit and Boston's win, but because of the incredible sendoff he was given by Cardinals fans.
If you're playing along at home, that is the fourth extended ovation Joe Kelly has received tonight at Busch Stadium. #stlcards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) August 7, 2014
Pretty much everything Kelly did — even when it hurt the Cardinals — was celebrated, and that support was likely worth more to Kelly than winning any amount of money. Even from a friend.
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