Sloppy eighth inning steals triple play thunder

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Sloppy eighth inning steals triple play thunder

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard

BOSTON -- Whether you want to point the finger at Jed Lowries throwhome that hit Ben Zobrist, or at Mike Aviles throw to Jason Varitek instead ofgoing to third on a runner stealing home, it was a play that opened up thesecond game of a day-night doubleheader.

The Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays split the two games at FenwayPark, with the Rays taking the second one, 6-2.

@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; The Rays last three runs came in the eighth inning, and thespotlight can easily be put on Tampa Bays attempted double steal whichresulted in a B.J. Upton rundown in between second and first, and an eventualbotched throw to home by Lowrie, leading to Zobrist scoring and giving the Raysa 5-2 lead.

With runners on first and third with one out in the top ofthe eighth, and the Rays trying to extend a 4-2 lead, the Red Sox caught Uptonin a rundown as he tried to steal second. But just as they wanted their plan togo, Zobrist decided to creep closer to home.

As Zobrist made it halfway to the plate, Aviles decided toput all of his attention on Zobrist. It was the right idea, in order to save arun, but instead of charging the runner or even throwing to Varitek at home,Aviles decided to quickly toss it to Lowrie at third.

I started going, and as soon as I saw Zobrist take a stepor two towards third, thats when I let it go, said Aviles after the loss. Iprobably should have ran him back a little bit more. But I just tried to get itin the hands of Jed or Varitek a little quicker.

Lowrie had a tough angle, and his throw home hit a slidingZobrist, and gave Tampa Bay a 5-2 lead in a game that was just 3-2 entering theeighth inning.

Jed didnt have a throwing lane, said Red Sox managerTerry Francona after the loss. Whether he had time to create one, I thought wedid a pretty good job. The runner, it looked to me like he did a good job andgot in the throwing lane.

I tried to get outside and create a throwing lane, saidLowrie. And Tek slid over, and I think Zobrist saw Tek slide over, so hekind of veered out, because he was running well inside the base line. When hesaw Tek slide out, I think he started running towards the outside lane, justlike a magnet.

I thought that was the right throw by Aviles, addedLowrie. He ran B.J. back, and when Zobrist went, he stopped and startedrunning into him, so I think he made the right play. Its just unfortunate thatthe ball hit Zobrist.

It was unfortunate for the Red Sox, because it somewhat tookaway from Lowries heads up play in the top of the fourth inning, when SeanRodriguez hit a hard grounder down the third-base line with runners on firstand second and no outs and a 2-1 Tampa Bay lead.

Lowrie stabbed at the grounder to his right, and quicklymade a decision to step on third and make a hard throw to Dustin Pedroia atsecond base to get another force out. Pedroia got the out at second, and alsogot the out at third, giving the Red Sox their first triple play since JohnValentin turned one in 1994.

And it all started with Lowries heads up decision to stepon third and make a perfect throw to second.

Well at the time of the game, its a big play in the game,said Francona. It was first and second with nobody out. They got a chance toextend the lead, and all of a sudden, the innings over.

It was pretty cool, said Lowrie, who had never even seen atriple play before until Tuesday night. I was thinking that if I got agroundball, Id just step on third and throw it to first, but he hit atwo-hopper to my right side, and it just set up perfect for a triple play.

I know that Pedroia is one of the best in the business atturning it, added Lowrie. So I knew we had a chance when hes out there. AndI got it to him quick and right on target. I know if I do that, hes got a goodchance of turning it.

That triple play also made up for Lowries errant throw homein the second inning, which led to Tampa Bay taking an early 1-0 lead.

But by the time his throw home in the eighth inning hitZobrist, it was 5-2 Rays, and after another run was tacked on in the inning, itwas the one play that stuck out as a turning point after Tuesday nights loss.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

BOSTON - There's something about Boston Red Sox pitchers and 20-strikeout games.

There have been six major-league games with that many strikeouts and the Red Sox made the list for the third time, fanning that many Texas Rangers for a 6-2 victory Thursday night and a sweep of the three-game series.

Five Boston pitchers combined on the 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings and closer Craig Kimbrel getting four in the ninth when the leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch strike three. Boston's Roger Clemens twice reached 20 strikeouts by himself.

"His stuff is nasty. What he is doing right now I have never seen anything like that," Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel has retired 53 of the last 56 batters he has faced and right-handed hitters are on an 0-for-41 streak.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to its fourth straight win.

"A lot has been made about our home run totals or lack thereof," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Tonight was the first of what should be many more."

Pomeranz (4-3), who tied his career high with the 11 strikeouts, made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

"Felt lost for a couple of starts and wasn't satisfied," said Pomeranz, who gave up four hits and walked one. "Tonight I felt more like last year."

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and 15 of 21 on the road.

"The sweep is surprising," Andrus said. "But that's the beauty of baseball, I guess. You cannot take any team for granted. Even when you feel you're playing at your best, stuff like this can happen."

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers starter Nick Martinez (1-3) early.

Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third to put Boston ahead 4-0. Despite finishing with 21 home runs last year, Bogaerts needed 46 games to connect for the first time this season.

"Good to get one over the wall and get it out of the way," Bogaerts said.

Mike Napoli struck out four times while Pete Kozma and Andrus went down three times each. Every Ranger starter struck out at least once.

"Pomeranz was throwing well," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Obviously their bullpen came in and threw well also and they played better than we did overall tonight."

Marrero homered in the eighth off Alex Claudio.

Martinez gave up four runs in five innings and is winless in four starts against Boston with a 6.46 ERA.

Andrus cut Boston's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with the homer, snapping an 0-for-9 drought.

Moreland tied his career high by driving in at least one run for the sixth straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven games, batting .393 in that stretch.

Boston swept Texas for the first time at Fenway Park since 2008. Since 2009, Texas has the best winning percentage at Fenway Park in the major leagues at .600.

STRIKING SUCCESS

Pomeranz recorded his 500th career strikeout when he whiffed Napoli for the final out of the fourth inning, his eighth of the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre will play in extended spring training games in Arizona the next three days after being sidelined all season with a calf strain.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after five innings for precautionary reasons due to left knee pain. He is listed as day to day. ... LHP David Price will make his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox despite surrendering six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two rehab starts. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 13 in four rehab games.

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1) in the opener at Toronto.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1) looks to win his fourth straight decision when they entertain Seattle on Friday.