DIRECTIONS: After reading passage 1, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer folder. You may refer to the passage as often as necessary.
PROSE FICTION: This passage is adapted from the short story “A Strong Dead Man” by Daniel Alarcon (2005 by Daniel Alarcon).
The main characters in this passage are watching baseball games:
Mario and Rafael found a place to sit in the fields, letting their eyes wander as the games unfolded before them. A man carried a wooden board pegged with colorful balloons. So many bikes whizzed by that the (5) ground itself seemed to move – a giant conveyor belt this island – and the only ones still were Mario and Rafael. They sat in the sun between fields, where they could watch two games at once. Mario had bought them both sodas, and the games slid by as they sipped from (10) straws, their plastic bottles pimpled with condensation.
Rafael could tell how tired his cousin was. Mario’s slacks and dress shoes looked out of place, he had unbuttoned and untucked his shirt. Mario’s hair was black and unruly and should have been cut weeks ago. (15) Everyone was always saying that he put in too many hours – he’d come from work that very day. But to Rafael it seemed exciting to have tasks to complete and people who depended on you. Mario had gone to college and worked in a bank now, something with (20) computers. He called them systems. He was ten years older than Rafael.
For a long while, they said nothing and were comfortable. They wagered as to who would get on base. Mario had the science. “You size up the hitter,” he said, (25) “by taking in the complete picture. Don’t be fooled by his physique.”
“The whole package?”
“Fat don’t mean he can’t run and skinny don’t mean he can’t hit. Look for confidence. The way he (30) carries himself, even between pitches.” They eyed a hitter as he came to the plate. His uniform hung off him, a little too big, enough to highlight the thin arms and puny legs that carried him. He was fidgety, adjusting and readjusting his cap. The pitcher (35) waited. “He’s gonna strikeout,” Rafael said. “He’s nervous.”
The first pitch came in high, but he chased it nearly falling over in the process. There were some (40) snickers from the opposing team. The hitter took his time, a few mock swings, before getting back to the plate. He looked lost already. The next pitch sailed by him, called strike. 0-2. Mario nudged his cousin. “Good call. He’s done.” The hitter called time and, (45) taking off his cap, looked sheepishly toward the dugout. Half his guys were already getting their gloves on. None of them would meet his gaze. The pitcher smelled blood. The hitter stepped back in, got in his stance. The pitch was a good one, but the swing was all wrong, (50) defensive, tenuous. He popped the ball high toward first. He didn’t even run.
“Good call,” Mario repeated.
They watched a few more, and some surprised them. A little rail of a man slapped a double, driving in (55) a run. An overmatched pitcher got a slugger to ground out. Before long, Rafael found himself rooting for the batter, even though he had been a pitcher in Little League. He saw no contradiction in switching allegiance when the teams switched sides. “Do it!” Rafael (60) shouted. “Run, run!” he yelled. “Beat the throw! Slide!”
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