Failure to get double play opens door for Tigers' five-run second inning
DETROIT -- The Red Sox have grown accustomed to seeing Dustin Pedroia make game-saving plays in the field, but in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday, it was a rare miscue that proved to be the turning point.
Boston's two-time Gold Glove winner was unable to make a clean play on a sharply hit ground ball in the second inning. The tailor-made double play would have resulted in the Red Sox getting out of the inning with only one run crossing the plate. Instead, the Red Sox got just one out, allowing the Tigers' rally to continue.
The rare misstep by Pedroia opened the floodgates as right-hander Jake Peavy's struggles on the mound continued and ultimately led to a five-run inning the Red Sox were unable to overcome in a 7-3 loss at Comerica Park, evening the series a 2-2.
"I thought it was going to hop up and it stayed down, didn't land in the web of my glove and we got one out instead of two," a frustrated Pedroia said. "It's my responsibility to turn double plays, got a ground ball and I didn't field it clean."
The play in question happened with the bases loaded and one out. Peavy was reeling after he walked in a run on four pitches and was in desperate need of a ground ball to escape the jam without any more damage.
Peavy appeared to get what he was looking for. Detroit's Jose Iglesias hit a scorching grounder directly at Pedroia, who was in perfect position to make the play.
Pedroia went down on one knee to field the ball, but had the grounder slip just under his legs. He recovered quickly and made an underhanded throw to get the force at second base, but it was too late to turn two. Shortstop Stephen Drew's throw to first was late and allowed a run to score as the inning continued.
Torii Hunter followed with an RBI double to left field and Miguel Cabrera later added an RBI single for a 5-0 lead, as the Red Sox seemingly lost control of the game. Boston attempted a late-inning comeback, but by then it was far too late, leaving Pedroia frustrated about how the outcome might have been different if he made the play in the second, just like he has hundreds of times before in his career.
"I got to make that play," Pedroia said. "That's a double play ball, we could have limited the damage and I didn't field it clean to get out of it."
That wasn't the only moment from Game 4 that Pedroia would likely prefer to have back. In the fourth inning, Austin Jackson hit a sharp one-hopper to Pedroia's left. The eight-year veteran attempted to make a diving stab, but instead had it bounce off his glove. The ball rolled into shallow right field and Pedroia's throw home was late as Omar Infante came around to score Detroit's sixth run.
Pedroia's teammates were quick to come to his defense. This is, after all, a player that has saved numerous games this season with his ability to make difficult defensive plays, not to mention his valuable production from the heart of Boston's order.
It was a rarity to see Pedroia struggle as much as he did on the defensive side of the diamond.
"I know Pedey feels very bad, I'll count on that guy every day," Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino said. "I'll take him every single day on the field. That kind of stuff happens and becomes a snowball effect. It is what it is, but every single day I'll take that guy.
"I love playing behind him, I know he feels bad about it, but that's the thing about capitalizing. They kept the ball rolling, big inning."
Peavy also wasn't about to cast any blame over the miscue. He ended up allowing seven earned runs over three-plus innings and went out of his way to take full responsibility for the disappointing outing.
Pedroia wouldn't have found himself in that situation if Boston's right-hander didn't walk three batters in the inning, and it was that loss of command that proved to be just as responsible for the loss.
"That's a tough play Pedey had," Peavy said. "That's not on him. I've got to do a better job, and Pedey will make that play a bunch of times. There's nobody in this world you'd want the ball hit to in that situation than him. And like I said, we'll be back at 'em tomorrow."