BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway tied a major-league record in the first inning Tuesday night, but it’s not something he wants to look back on too much.
With knuckleballer Steven Wright on the mound (in his first Major League start), Lavarnway was sporting an oversized mitt to help him catch the unpredictable pitch. But things didn’t work out that way, and Lavarnway ended up with four passed balls in the first– just the third time in Major League history that four passed balls occurred in the same inning, and first time since 1987.
“I don’t think that’s how anyone would have drawn it up, but sometimes that’s how it goes with knuckleballers,” said Lavarnway, who caught Wright for the eighth time in his career on Tuesday. “That was the most I’ve ever seen it move. He’s been great the last two times out, sometimes that’s how it goes with knuckleballers.”
The Astros scored their first two runs of the evening on Lavarnway’s third and fourth passed balls. Wright, whose night ended after the first after allowing three earned runs on two walks, a wild pitch and just one hit, said pitching in a dome for the first time added more movement to his knuckler.
“It’s a tough pitch,” said Wright. “Usually I can keep it within a certain area of the strike zone; he’s caught me before and has done a really good job. Today it was all over the zone and I thought he did a great job taking the punches with me.”
Despite the first frame struggles, Lavarnway said he did not get frustrated behind the plate.
“You can never get frustrated. It’s a real hard thing to do and I wasn’t counting,” he said of the passed balls. “You just have to grind it out — at any minute he could have started throwing it right over the plate. It just wasn’t his day today.”
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Things worked our for Lavarnway in the end, as his two-run double in the fifth inning gave Boston an 8-7 lead — their first in the eventual 15-10 victory.
“That was awesome,” he said of his drive to deep center that plated David Ortiz and Stephen Drew. “No one ever game up in that game; no one ever said quit. We know what we have the capabilities to do offensively, we just grinded it out offensively.”