Pitching duel ends in play at the plate

Pitching duel ends in play at the plate
June 29, 2012, 6:54 am
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SEATTLE -- The baseball and the baserunner were on a collision course, hurdling toward home plate, from opposite directions. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had to keep an eye on both.
In a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth, only everything was on the line.
"The ol' bang-bang play,'' Bobby Valentine called it.
While blocking the plate from baserunner Casper Wells, Saltalamacchia thought he had the ball in his glove as he went to apply the tag.
More than a half-hour after the play had taken place, the Red Sox' catcher wasn't exactly sure what had transpired.
Did he tag Wells, only to have the ball jar loose on contact?
Did he never fully have control of the ball?
In reality, it didn't matter. Wells was safe, scoring the only run in a brilliant pitching duel, and the Red Sox lost to the Mariners, 1-0.
Wells was on second after a leadoff double, and the Sox elected to watch Justin Smoak with first base open.
Seattle pinch-hit Jaso for Miguel Olivo, and Jaso laced a hard single to right, which right field Cody Ross charged.
"We practice that play quite a bit,'' recounted Ross. "It's a do-or-die play. I know he's going to go (for the plate) right there. He can run pretty good. I charged it and came up clean. You're trying to keep the ball down; you don't want to air-mail it and not give your catcher a chance.''
But somewhere between Saltalamacchia fielding the throw and the application of the tag, the ball got away."It's just the way this game is,'' said Ross. "It's crazy.''
"The ball was hit off the end of the bat to right,'' said Saltalamacchia. "I knew Cody was going to make a great throw, and he did. It was right on the money. I've just got to do a better job of holding onto it in a big situation like that.
"It was a good throw, low, on-line, so I was trying to stay low with it and then as the ball was coming closer, I was trying to block the plate to make sure he didn't get to it. And I think as I was doing it, I was swiping in, trying to block the plate so he didn't get near it and I think it just rattled around in my glove.
"I think he tagged him in the helmet. But either way, he went way around home plate. I had a chance to back and tag him if I had held onto the ball.''
But he didn't. End of game.