Red Sox’ second baseman Dustin Pedroia limped off the field following a collision during the eighth inning of Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Orioles. He appeared to sustain some kind of leg injury after Baltimore’s Manny Machado made a late slide into second base and spiked Pedroia’s left calf with his cleats. While the Red Sox have yet to disclose any details about Pedroia’s condition, manager John Farrell told reporters that the infielder experienced some soreness following the play and was concerned that it might have re-injured his surgically repaired knee.
Both managers took issue with the play. Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter issued a challenge, arguing that Pedroia had stepped off the base, while Farrell believed that Machado had violated league rules by effectively preventing Pedroia from beginning to turn the double play. The tag was confirmed after review, although no double play was retroactively awarded to the Red Sox, nor was Machado ejected for an illegal slide.
There is, of course, a rule that prohibits takeout slides and is designed to avoid situations like this. It’s a four-pronged rule that requires runners to begin their slides before reaching the base, to stay in the vicinity of the base, to attempt to remain on the base after completing the slide, and to slide without going out of their way to intentionally make contact with the infielder. Machado failed to tick all four boxes on that checklist, and though the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson points out that the play looked more reckless than malicious, the ire it drew from Farrell and, later, third base coach Brian Butterfield was not without warrant.
Pedroia, for his part, did not appear upset with Machado’s tactics, whether intentional or not. Per MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel:
I don’t even know what the rule is,” he said. “I’ve turned the best double play in the major leagues for 11 years. I don’t need the (expletive) rule, let’s be honest. The rule is irrelevant. The rule is for people with bad footwork, and that’s it.
The Orioles are set for the second game of the series on Saturday at 7:05 PM EDT, when left-hander Jayson Aquino takes the mound against Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright. Needless to say, it’s shaping up to be a tense series.