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BOSTON (CBS) – He is their heart and soul, he is their max-effort second baseman, and he is their most consistent, reliable player. Yet on Wednesday night, Dustin Pedroia was something for the Red Sox that he’s not used to being: He was the guy who let the team down.
Pedroia bobbled a hard-hit ball off the bat of Jose Iglesias in the second inning, turning a would-be inning-ending double play into an RBI fielder’s choice, with Pedroia only able to get the out at second base. (Even the force out at second base was iffy, as Stephen Drew was given the benefit of the doubt for being “in the neighborhood” of the bag.) The Tigers led 1-0 when Iglesias stepped to the plate, and when the Red Sox finally jogged to their dugout to end the inning, the score was 5-0.
It could not be considered an easy play, and it didn’t go down as an error in the official scorebook, but it was a play that Pedroia has made look routine for the past seven years. That he could not make the play in this moment was most unfortunate for him and the Red Sox.
“He’s so consistent there, he’s such a good defender,” manager John Farrell said of Pedroia. “The ball was hit hard. Iggy squares it up, and typically that’s a routine double play that we’ve seen many, many times over. It was one of those things, it handcuffed him just enough where he wasn’t able to turn a double play.”
Baseball has an old saying which claims you can’t assume a double play. Yet when a Gold Glove-winner is in perfect position to turn a double play that probably wouldn’t have had a close play at first base and he doesn’t make the play, it stands out. When it allows a 1-0 deficit to turn into a 5-0 deficit, it stands out all the more.
“I got to make that play,” Pedroia said after the game. “It’s a double-play ball and we could have limited the damage. I didn’t field it clean and we couldn’t get out of it.”
Pedroia’s bobbled double play ball wasn’t the only reason the Tigers were able to build that 5-0 lead, as Jake Peavy walked three batters and allowed three hits in the inning. That included a bases-loaded walk to Austin Jackson, who was moved down to the eighth spot from the leadoff spot for Game 4.
“I think we probably contributed to the building of the inning, things that we do have control over,” John Farrell said, referencing the walks.
While Pedroia was hard on himself after the loss, Peavy wasn’t having any of it.
“No excuse. It’s all me,” Peavy said in the locker room after taking the loss. “We had our chances to get out of that inning and minimize the damage. … Listen, that’s a tough play for Pedey. That’s not on him. I gotta do a better job. Pedey will make that play a bunch of times, but there’s nobody in this world you want the ball hit to more than him.”
David Ortiz had Pedroia’s back as well, because he said he knows what to expect out of Pedroia going forward.
“I don’t feel bad for him. He’s one of our best players. He’s a human. He’s gonna make mistakes sometimes. He’s not perfect,” Ortiz said of Pedroia. “I’d trot him out there any time against anybody. That happens. … Once in a while, it happens. He better keep his head up and come back tomorrow and fight, just like he normally does every day.”
Shane Victorino, who’s had a front-row seat for Pedroia’s defense all season long, echoed Ortiz’s sentiments.
“I know Pedey feels very bad,” Victorino said. “I’ll count on that guy every day. I’ll take him every single day on the field. Every single day, I take that guy every day. I love playing behind him.”
Farrell’s assessment of the mistake being “one of those things” is perhaps the most appropriate, because no matter how badly Pedroia may be struggling at the plate, his defense never slumps. Alas, it failed him on Wednesday, and it gave the Tigers the opportunity to score all the runs they would need for the rest of the night.