By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON – Any time a team suffers a frustrating loss – especially to a team with one of the worst records in baseball – there will be a lot of wouldas, shouldas, and couldas. The Red Sox had their share in their 5-3, 10-inning loss to the Astros at Fenway Park Friday night.
Blame it on the lack of offense – just six hits in 10 innings with 11 strikeouts. Or the lack of shutdown pitching – the Astros scored all five of their runs with two outs.
But, sometimes these are the kinds of things that will happen when a team commits to so many young players in its lineup. In the eighth inning, the Sox came out on the losing end of arguably their strangest play of the season.
With two outs in the eighth inning, the Sox leading by a run, pinch-runner Gregorio Petit on second and Dexter Fowler at first, groundball specialist Burke Badenhop, the Sox third pitcher of the inning, and fourth of the game, entered to face Matt Dominquez. Instead of a groundball, Dominguez lofted a soft line drive to Xander Bogaerts, the ball falling just in front of the Sox’ shortstop.
But, instead of throwing to first to cut down Dominguez and end the inning, Bogaerts, who was playing back and had to lay back on the ball, opted for an underhand toss to Dustin Pedroia at second to get the speedy Fowler.
But Fowler beat the toss. With Petit racing home, Pedroia fired a strike to catcher Christian Vazquez at the plate. In his attempt to chase Petit back to third, Vazquez’ momentum took him on a roundabout route, starting first to the edge of the grass toward the mound before heading toward third, allowing Petit to avoid the tag.
Vazquez flipped to Badenhop covering the plate. But Badenhop dropped the throw as Petit tagged the plate with his right hand, tying the game, setting the stage for the Astros’ 5-3 win in the 10th, their first ever win at Fenway Park in nine tries.
Hindsight, as the cliché goes, is 20/20.
“He was close at second but, I could have thrown to first,” Bogaerts said. “If the guy [Petit] didn’t make that great move at home plate, he probably would have been out. There’s a lot of stuff [that didn’t go our way].
“I could have thrown to first, in hindsight.”
Perhaps it was Bogaerts’ lack of familiarity with Petit.
“When he’s got to lay back on it,” manager John Farrell said. “Whether or not he’s familiar with the running speed of Fowler, you can say sitting here in hindsight, take the play across the infield for the putout at first base. But his instincts were to go the short way with the feed to Pedey.”
Vazquez, the rookie catcher, was charged with a throwing error on the play.
“This wasn’t a mental error on his part by any means,” Farrell said. “It was an aggressive, athletic play that Petit changes course and he’s got enough room to get by him.”
Farrell challenged both plays – at second and at the plate – but lost on both.
“I thought initially, I didn’t know that Petit got the plate with our vantage point from the dugout,” he said. “And then with the ability to challenge the entire play, that’s where the look at second base is included in that.”
It was his 24th manager’s challenge this season. He has had 12 calls overturned, six confirmed, and six stood as called on the field.