Schwarber fields grounder, sells the reaction

'It's a game. Like, you've got to be able to laugh at yourself'

October 11th, 2021

BOSTON -- You’ve seen a player tip their cap to the crowd after a diving catch or a leaping grab. But how about a first baseman getting an ovation after flipping the ball to his pitcher on a grounder to first?

In the Red Sox’s 6-4, 13-inning win over the Rays in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, -- starting at first base for just the 11th time for Boston -- opened the third inning with an error. Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe rolled what looked like a clear first out of the inning to Schwarber, who then tried to flip the ball underhanded to starter . But Schwarber airmailed it over the head of Eovaldi, who was waiting at the bag to make the play. Despite the miscue, the Red Sox were able to escape the inning without allowing a run.

One inning later, Schwarber had his shot at redemption. Ji-Man Choi chopped an Eovaldi curveball up the first-base line, tracing the path of Lowe’s ball in the third. This time, Schwarber toned it down with a soft toss to Eovaldi for the out. The first baseman threw up his hands as he ran out the play, turning to his dugout as he wound up for a celebratory fist pump. Schwarber pointed to the sky and tipped his cap to a roaring crowd at Fenway Park. It was by no means a flashy play, but Schwarber’s reaction suggested that, despite the playoff intensity, the Red Sox clubhouse is still finding ways to stay loose.

“We've been having fun for a long, long time, although it doesn't look from other areas or whatever the people watch it. But we love the group,” manager Alex Cora said. “We love what we do. We're having fun, and here we are.”

“You've got to be able to make fun of yourself every once in a while and loosen the situation up,” Schwarber said. “Obviously, being new over there at first base, you make the error, and Nate picks you up. Unbelievable job by Nate. You go out there and make the good old routine play and loosen it up a little bit. ... It was a good time. I think I got a laugh out of pretty much almost everyone. It's a game. Like, you've got to be able to laugh at yourself.”

Prior to Sunday’s contest, Cora spoke of Schwarber’s character both on and off the field. Though the 28-year-old Schwarber has been with Boston for just 45 games, Cora said “he feels like he's been here for 10 years.”

“That was awesome. That's who they are. That's what we do,” Cora said after the win. “Of course we wanted to make the first play, and after that he makes the play -- and everyone was excited because he did it. He did what he did, and I think it was great. Sometimes we take this game too seriously and you can actually not enjoy it. Although we take it seriously, we also have fun with it.”

Schwarber, batting from the leadoff spot, opened the scoring for Boston with a solo shot off Rays starter Drew Rasmussen in the first inning. In 28 postseason games, Schwarber has eight homers, 13 RBIs and an 1.022 OPS across 97 plate appearances.