Reporting Dan Roche
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BOSTON (CBS) – It was certainly cool to see the Red Sox turn a triple play in their 6-2 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night; a perfect 5-4-3 around the horn play.
It was the first one turned by Boston since 1994.
However, what was a bigger concern was Boston’s inept defense elsewhere; the kind of defense you can’t play if you’re going to win close games. Especially come playoff time.
It’s amazing to me how, sometimes, basic fundamental plays aren’t made on the big league level. Plays that are taught from little league on up like hitting cutoffs, executing rundowns, etc.
Tuesday night, Jed Lowrie failed to make a good throw to Jason Varitek from third that would have easily gunned down Tampa’s Ben Zobrist in the second inning. Lowrie was given an error, and it gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
“I had a shot at getting the guy out at home and just threw it in the dirt,” Lowrie said after the game. “It was one of those quick plays that is a reaction once again and made the decision to go home with it. The throw was on-line, just short.”
Meanwhile, Mike Aviles made a poor decision in the eighth inning. In a first and third situation, BJ Upton was nearly picked off from first. While Upton was in a rundown, Zobrist (once again on third) broke for home and the Sox shortstop ended up throwing the ball to third. You are taught to run right at the runner and then throw to the plate if it’s clear the runner is caught. And, better to eat the ball than throw behind him, which Aviles did. So Zobrist ended up scoring, making it 5-2 Rays while Upton went to second. Upton then scored on an RBI single by Casey Kotchman to make it 6-2.
“As soon as I saw Zobrist take a step or two to third that’s when I let it go,” said Aviles after the game. “I probably should have run him back a little more, but I just tried to get it in the hands of Jed or Tek a little quicker.”
“I tried to get outside and create a throwing lane,” said Lowrie. “Tek slid over and I think (Zobrist) saw Tek slide over and he kind of veered out. He was running well inside the base line, and when he saw Tek slide out I think he started running slightly toward the outside lane.”
Now, Dustin Pedroia made several stellar defensive plays in both ends of the day/night doubleheader and there was the triple play, so I’m not saying that the Sox played bad defense.
My simple point is: basic fundamentals can be the difference in any game. And, come postseason play, it can be the difference between moving on and staying home.