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Roche: Red Sox, Umpires And The World’s Biggest Stage

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Allen Craig and Will Middlebrooks collide in Game 3 of the World Series, leading to a game-winning obstruction call for the Cardinals. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Allen Craig and Will Middlebrooks collide in Game 3 of the World Series, leading to a game-winning obstruction call for the Cardinals. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Dan Roche Dan Roche
Dan Roche is an award-winning sports anchor and reporter for WBZ-T...
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BOSTON (CBS) –  Time for some thoughts as the Red Sox wake up trying to figure out if “that really happened in Game 3 of a World Series” on Saturday night:

– My first reactions to the final play of the game were:

  • Jim Joyce got the play right. That’s from the full speed play. I initially though Middlebrooks held Craig down and that Craig should have been awarded home right away, even before the play was over.
  • After watching the replay, yes, they got tangled, but you couldn’t really argue strongly that Middlebrooks kept him down. In fact, Craig pushed him as he got up. However, any collision like that one cannot almost guarantee that the player be awarded the next base. It’s the nature of the play. Ball gets by, contact between receiver and runner and the runner gets that call.

I think it was the right call. As bad as it was to end a game on an obstruction call, I think they got it right. However, the more you watch the replay — and I’ve seen it about 30 times now — it was a “you’ve got to be kidding me type of play.” The way the ball and the runner got to third at the same time and then the collision wasn’t forced. It just happened. It was probably more frustrating than anything for this gritty Red Sox team. There was contact and if that’s the rule, so be it.

READ: Five Things You Missed From Game 3

We have never seen, and there’s a good chance we will never see it again, a game end that way in the postseason.

As far as Salty goes, he should not have thrown that ball. I think as the play was unfolding, as Pedroia was throwing home, you could see Allen Craig going back to second base and then breaking for third. At that point, I think Salty had to be thinking he can make the tag at home and then nail Craig at third. It just took too long to unfold. So, in hindsight — again, in hindsight — he should have held on to the ball and take a chance on facing Peter Kozma with two outs and runners on second and third or first and third.

Now, some other thoughts:

– The Sox played another great game as far as battling goes. They were down 2-0 and 4-2 but kept coming. Nava, Bogaerts and Ortiz, they just wouldn’t quit and they got runs off of the two young guns out of the St. Louis pen: Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. Pretty impressive stuff.

– Jake Peavy settled down after a rough first inning while Felix Doubront was great for two innings. Craig Breslow had some brutal luck in giving up an infield single to Carpenter and then nicking Carlos Beltran. I though Tazawa, Workman, and Uehara were fine.

– The one and only “second guess” of manager John Farrell was not getting Mike Napoli to the plate. He let Brandon Workman hit (and strikeout) with one out and nobody on in the top of the 9th in a 4-4 game. One swing of the bat can change the game. It made less sense when Koji Uehara came in with one out in the 9th for Workman. Meanwhile, after the nine-spot in the line-up, Napoli would not have pinch hit until at least the 6th, 7th, or 8th spot in the order and that would have been in extra innings. You weren’t even going to pinch hit for Nava in the five-hole because the Sox were out of outfielders. So, he had to hit for Workman.

– I’m curious to see what Clay Buchholz can give the Sox tonight in Game 4. All I’ve been told by Clay and others on the Sox is that they’re looking for 3-6 good innings out if him. Yes, his velocity has dropped as the games have gone on, but it’s just due to fatigue. So, he will throw until John Farrell and Juan Nieves don’t like what they see any more.

READ: Buchholz Not 100 Percent, But Ready For Game 4 Start

– Felix Doubront, Ryan Dempster, and Franklin Morales are in line to back him up with Dempster probably being the early go-to guy.

– At some point we could see Mike Napoli at third and David Ortiz at first. Napoli took ground balls at third during a good portion of batting practice prior to Game 3. He looked OK there; he is a good athlete and has quick catcher’s hands. A gamble yes, but it could work.

– I think you may see Bogaerts at SS, Middlebrooks at third to start Game 4.

– Finally, I hope the Baseball Gods give the Red Sox a win in Game 4 so we end the World Series with a best-of-three battle. I think it would be the best way to end it after the bizarre ending we had in Game 3.

Enjoy the game!

Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.

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