Misplay by rookie outfielder opens doors to Red Sox rally in loss
BOSTON -- Rookie right fielder Wil Myers went back a few steps, just as he'd done thousands of times before, got his glove ready and put out his hand to signal that he had the ball. But he suddenly stopped, and David Ortiz's routine fly ball dropped and skipped over the wall in right-center, morphing into a ground-rule double that helped set the stage for a pivotal five-run fourth inning in the Rays' tough 12-2 loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday.
"I saw [center fielder Desmond Jennings] out of the corner of my eye; [the] center fielder has priority," said Myers, who didn't lose his tracking on the ball but thought that perhaps Jennings had said something to signal he had it.
"It's fair to call it just a mistake," outfield coach Davey Martinez said. "It doesn't have to be a rookie. In the playoffs, anything can happen. You get a little freaky."
By virtue of having the AL's best record, the Red Sox have home-field advantage, and the boisterous sold-out crowd at Fenway Park added another element to the already-quirky ballpark, which will host Game 2 on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET on TBS.
"He didn't say anything at all," Myers said of Jennings. "The reason why I [stopped short] is it's so loud, the crowd, I thought he may have called something.
"It was one of those things where I have to take control of the situation and catch the ball."
Immediately following the play, TBS commentators speculated that perhaps members of the Boston bullpen had called off Myers, but that wasn't the case. Rays manager Joe Maddon also said it wasn't a communication issue.
"Really a routine play," Maddon said. "I was told he saw something out of the corner of his eye and he backed off. Very unfortunate."
"That one play led to the whole big inning," Jennings said. "We make that play, another fly ball, and we get out of the inning, maybe one run or two runs."
Instead the Red Sox batted around, with Jonny Gomes plating Ortiz one out later with a two-run double.
"If you're really looking and you're pulling away because you see the center fielder out of the corner of your eye, you're not in good position," Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino said. "As a fellow outfielder, I pull away because I hear him [in center field]. That's a different story.
"It's not an easy right field. Same for left field. ... Fenway is one of those parks that if you don't play it a lot, it can come and haunt you sometimes. It's part of being a good team and getting home-field advantage. We'll take it to our advantage."
Myers was heckled loudly after his miscue, with the crowd chanting his name during every subsequent at-bat.
Martinez waited until the eighth inning to talk to Myers about the play because he "looked miserable," and said Myers' story matched up with what he'd heard from Jennings.
As for whether Myers, who went 0-for-4 at the plate, can make amends, Martinez said, "I think so. Look what he's done for us in the few months he's been here. He's a big reason why we're here."