Pinball wizard: Pedroia dazzles on defense

Second baseman bare hands ricochet to nab Gomez

July 4th, 2017

ARLINGTON -- Every now and then, a ballplayer has such a stellar night that he'd be the focus of the game's highlight reel whether it was 30 seconds or three minutes. Red Sox second baseman had just such a performance Monday in a 7-5, 11-inning win over the Rangers, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs and dazzling with his defense late in the game to prevent a Texas comeback.

"He's had a lot of great seasons here, a lot of great games, but tonight might be one of the better games he's ever played in this uniform," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He was the right man at the right spot at the plate. He was everywhere defensively."

Pedroia had staked Boston to a 5-2 lead with two-run singles in the second and sixth innings, but the usually reliable Red Sox bullpen gave that lead away. The Rangers tied the game on the first pitch of the ninth when Mike Napoli clobbered a homer to left off normally unflappable closer .

Were it not for Pedroia, Kimbrel could have been in danger of losing for the first time in 35 appearances this season. On the next pitch after Napoli's game-tying dinger, Gomez clinked a swinging-bunt infield single to third baseman , whose throw to first sailed wide and bounced off the wall into right field.

Gomez ran past first in foul territory, then turned and took a few steps toward second base. Pedroia, alertly backing up the play, picked up the ball barehanded and fired it to first baseman Mitch Moreland. Moreland managed to apply the tag on a surprised Gomez.

"He made a good play, and that's the only thing we can say," Gomez said.

Of course, the Red Sox had a lot more to say about the heads-up play.

Right fielder , who will start next week's All-Star Game, had one of the best vantage points as the play happened right in front of him.

"When the ball hit [the wall], I didn't notice Gomez went towards second, and then Pedey, I don't know how he did it, but he did it," Betts said. "I think it changed that inning completely. It really changed the game completely."

Kimbrel settled down to record the final two outs.

"It was a pretty ridiculous play," said Kimbrel. "The effort that he had to back up the play is the reason that he made it. … After the first-pitch homer and him swinging at the next pitch, momentum-wise, it slowed it down a bit. Definitely helpful."

Perhaps the only member of the Red Sox organization who didn't completely rave about the play was the man who made it.

"I was just backing up the base. I do it every time," Pedroia said. "Our infielders, we take pride in backing up bases and making sure if there is an overthrow you're there for your guy. It just worked out for us. It just kicked off in the right spot. I was able to get to it and Mitch was able to get back to the base. It was a big play, especially after they just tied the game."

In the 10th, Pedroia made a diving stop to his left and threw to first quickly to retire for the first out, then raced back for an over-the-shoulder catch to get for the second out.

"His defense was an energy driver in many different ways tonight -- he was in the middle of everything here," Farrell said.

Pedroia is 7-for-17 with nine RBIs in his last four games.

"He's pretty locked in [offensively] right now," Farrell said. "You see where he's at with the base hits in the gaps. … He's staying on pitches away, he's fighting tough pitches off to get a pitch in the middle of the plate. I don't think you can give Pedey too many accolades for the game he had here tonight."