Blown call from Jerry Meals, bad baseball doom Red Sox in loss

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Make no mistake: the Red Sox played some pretty terrible baseball in losing 2-1 to the Rays on Monday. Still, a blown call at home plate in the bottom of the eighth cost them the tying run and, for that, Jerry Meals was to blame.

Here’s the video:

Meals admitted after the game that he made the wrong call. Which is good. Personally, I have less of a problem with the call itself than his positioning to make the call. Everything happens so fast that bad calls are going to happen. It’s giving oneself the best chance to make the right call that’s important. Meals had all day to set up, knowing that the play at the plate was forthcoming. Yet he still put himself at the worst possible angle to judge the play. It’s ridiculous that home-plate umpires still retreat behind the catcher to make the call at the plate. The percentage of missed calls at home plate is maybe the single biggest reason expanded instant replay is needed.

But let’s not make this all about Meals. Let’s also spent some time on all of the stupid things the Red Sox did in the final two innings:

– After Ryan Lavarnway’s one-out double in the frame, the Red Sox sent in Daniel Nava to pinch-run, even though they still had Jose Iglesias on the bench. Not only is Nava just not that fast, but the move robbed them of one of their two quality pinch-hitting options.

– Stephen Drew followed with a double over Wil Myers’ head in right. Nava did a terrible job reading it and only advanced to third on the play. Inexcusable.

– That brought Brandon Snyder to the plate against Joel Peralta. Snyder was 6-for-45 with no extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts lifetime against right-handers, so pinch-hitting for him was an obvious, obvious call. Except Snyder had homered earlier off lefty David Price. Apparently, that warranted him another opportunity in John Farrell’s book. Besides, Farrell had already burnt one of his pinch-hitting options in Nava. It would have been Mike Carp hitting for him. Snyder was the player who hit the fly to left on which Nava was thrown out at the plate.

– In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single. The same Jacoby Ellsbury who happened to be leading the majors with 38 steals in 41 attempts. Regardless, the Red Sox had Shane Victorino try to bunt against Fernando Rodney anyway. It didn’t work, and Victorino ended up softly lining out on an 0-2 pitch after fouling off his bunt attempts. With Dustin Pedroia up, Ellsbury easily took second for his 39th steal.

– The Red Sox pushed the envelope no further from there. Baserunners are 11-for-13 lifetime stealing third off Rodney, but Ellsbury never went. He also decided to hang back on Pedroia’s grounder to short, when he could have gotten aggressive and tried to take third on the relay. Since he was only on second, the wild pitch Rodney threw to Mike Napoli with two outs proved harmless. Napoli ended up striking out to end the game, putting the Rays back in first place in the AL East at 63-43. The Red Sox are 64-44, a half-game behind.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.