October 25, 2013

On Baseball: Costliest of errors sink Red Sox

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BOSTON — So many playoff teams have made mistakes against the Boston Red Sox. First it was the Tampa Bay Rays in the division series, then the Detroit Tigers in the league championship series, and finally the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

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St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma scores on a sacrifice fly as Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia can't handle the throw during the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's World Series Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, in Boston.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

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Boston Red Sox relief patcher Craig Breslow reacts after walking St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso, right, during the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's World Series Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, in Boston. Breslow later made a costly error.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

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“The one thing that we’ve been proud of is the way our guys have been able to capitalize on some sort of miscue,” Boston Manager John Farrell said before Game 2 at Fenway Park on Thursday night.

But Farrell was quick to remind that “we’ve made our own (mistakes). The Tigers took advantage of ours in Game 4.”

And now he can point to Thursday as another time the Red Sox let it slip away after having a 2-1 lead.

The seventh inning had that Little League feel to it. You know, those games where fielders keep making mistakes and runners never stop, sprinting around the bases.

The inning started innocently enough with John Lackey giving up a one-out walk, followed by a single.

No problem. Farrell called on his lockdown bullpen. Craig Breslow would finish the seventh, then …

… well, it didn’t happen that way.

St. Louis got away with a double-steal against Breslow. Then he walked the bases loaded.

Trouble.

Matt Carpenter’s sacrifice fly to left field tied the game.

If only that was all the Cardinals got.

Jonny Gomes threw the ball home. Jarrod Saltalamacchia could not control it. Runners broke for second and third.

Breslow backed up the play and tried to throw out the runner on third. If this truly were a Little League game, you would hear the coach yell “hold the ball.”

Breslow put a little oomph behind his throw. It reached the seats behind third base on a bounce. The go-ahead run scored.

An RBI single followed and Boston trailed 4-2 with St. Louis’ own lockdown relievers coming in.

Before the mistakes, Boston looked like it was following a familiar script to victory, with John Lackey dueling another touted hard-throwing starter.

Last week it was the Lackey vs. Justin Verlander duel in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Detroit.

Verlander did his Verlander thing and buzzed through the Red Sox lineup.

Lackey, the underdog in that game, matched Verlander zeroes for zeroes.

One Verlander fastball caught too much of the middle of home plate and Mike Napoli crushed it for a seventh-inning home run for a 1-0 win that may have been the pivotal game in the series.

On Thursday, Boston had trouble figuring out whiz-kid Michael Wacha, whose sizzling fastball and deceptive change-up had the Red Sox swinging at air.

But Lackey kept Boston in the game, trailing 1-0 headed to the sixth.

A two-run David Ortiz home run gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead and had Boston fans thinking this team of destiny truly was going to go all the way.

But then came the mistakes.

The Red Sox met another team that can pounce when given the opportunity.

And now this series is tied.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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