BOSTON -- Boston's final run of its 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon was also the most dramatic.As Mookie Betts hit a line drive into left field in the bottom of the sixth inning and the ball kept trickling down toward the Green Monster, third-base coach Brian
BOSTON -- Boston's final run of its 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon was also the most dramatic.
As Mookie Betts hit a line drive into left field in the bottom of the sixth inning and the ball kept trickling down toward the Green Monster, third-base coach Brian Butterfield was wildly waving Blake Swihart home from first.
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Swihart slid into home plate just as Toronto catcher Russell Martin tagged him. Home-plate umpire Jerry Meals signaled that Swihart was out. Red Sox manager John Farrell challenged, and after a three-minute-and-14-second review, the call was overturned to give Boston an insurance run.
"You know, there's a huge difference between a one- and two-run lead," Farrell said. "You give a little breathing room to the guy on the mound. It was an aggressive send by Butter, a very good decision on his part. But Blake not giving up and one heck of a slide to avoid the tag at home plate, that run looms large."
Even during the official replay deliberation, Butterfield knew Swihart was safe.
"It was a great slide, and he's a tremendous athlete," Butterfield said. "He plays the game right. I love him."
What made this play all the more peculiar was Butterfield's position on the field as he waved Swihart home. Instead of crouching in his usual grassy terrain just off the bag, Butterfield was standing inside the line, causing Swihart to take a wide turn and run around the line instead of through it.
"There's a blind spot down in that corner where you have to get on the field of play to see and to make a decision," Butterfield said. "You're looking for maybe a bobble by the left fielder, some type of stumble or some type of glitch, but he picked it up. But with my peripheral, I liked where Blake was at to give us a chance with two outs."
Farrell said he appreciates how involved Butterfield is in studying his own players as well as Boston's opponents.
"Well, Butter is an outstanding third-base coach," he said. "It's part of a culture that we try to set from Day 1 of Spring Training, and that is to push the envelope on the basepaths. You can maybe force some errors by the opposition by playing an up-tempo style. But our guys are buying into it. Our young players trust it, and we've been able to make good decisions."
That trust goes both ways, as Butterfield said he is extremely fond of Swihart, 24, and his capability as an athlete at such a young age. The left fielder went 1-for-1 on Saturday with one run, two walks and an RBI before exiting with a left ankle injury sustained when he ran into the side wall trying to catch a foul ball in the seventh. He's batting .258 with a .365 on-base percentage.
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.