By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve watched countless hours of the sport. With 162 games (plus spring training … plus the postseason, if you’re lucky) every year, you’re getting more than 500 hours of baseball every single season.
But it’s a guarantee that you’ve never seen a play like the one Dustin Pedroia made on Monday night in Texas.
It came in the bottom of the ninth inning, just one batter after Mike Napoli demolished a Craig Kimbrel offering and tied the game at five runs apiece. The batter was Carlos Gomez, who sent a check-swing nubber down the third base line. Deven Marrero charged, barehanded the ball, and made a throw toward first, but the throw sailed well wide of the base.
As the ball flew by, Gomez thought he had an easy road to second base. His first base coach agreed.
Yet Pedroia — through equal parts good fortune and good preparation — was able to pounce on the bounding ball, which had ricocheted off the stadium wall. And because Gomez had taken a step toward second base, he lost his license to run past the bag.
All in one motion, Pedroia dropped to the ground, barehanded the ball and flung it to Mitch Moreland at first base to record arguably the most spectacular out he’s ever recorded.
You do have to see it to understand it. And even then … it takes a few views.
The fact that Dennis Eckersley — who himself pitched more than 3,000 MLB innings over a 24-year career and has witnessed thousands more innings as an analyst — reacted in pure shock says all that needs to be said about the rarity of that play.
Kimbrel ended up getting out of the ninth without any further damage. Andrew Benintendi hit a bloop single to drive in two runs in the 11th inning, and Heath Hembree got the save, as the Red Sox improved to 48-35 on the season.
Pedroia also went 3-for-5 with a walk and four RBIs on the night.
“He’s had a lot of great seasons here, a lot of great games, but tonight might be one of the better games he’s ever played in this uniform,” manager John Farrell said. “He was the right man at the right spot at the plate. He was everywhere defensively.”
Pedroia, of course, downplayed it all.
“I just try to play the same every night,” Pedroia said. “I mean, that’s it. Show up to the yard to compete and try to win a game. So I try to do it every night. … I was just backing up the base. I do it every time. I think our infielders, we take pride in backing up bases and making sure that if there is an overthrow, you’re there for your guys. It just worked out for us. It kicked out to the right spot and I was able to get to it, and Mitch was able to get back to the base. It was a big play, especially after they just tied the game.”
In the old days, we used to say plays like this would end up on the TWIB plays of the week. Now, they get embedded in blogs. Perhaps the prestige level has changed, but my oh my, you might never see that play again — no matter how much baseball you watch.