Matthew Pouliot

Jerry Meals

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.

David Ortiz avoids suspension after tantrum

David Ortiz
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David Ortiz’s dugout tirade in Saturday’s game against the Orioles might yet see him fined, but it won’t result in any sort of suspension, an MLB source told CSN New England’s Maureen Mullen on Monday.

It seems like a ludicrous decision given Ortiz’s recklessness in taking a bat to a dugout phone and potentially injuring teammates. If it had been anyone other than Ortiz, it’s a safe guess the Red Sox would have taken the initiative and benched him for a day or two, if not officially suspending him. But they weren’t willing to risk their biggest bat turning on them.

Ortiz followed up the tantrum by going 4-for-4 with a homer in Sunday’s game. He’s again in the lineup as a DH tonight.

Rosenthal: Cubs listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija
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It’s was assumed the Cubs already moved their biggest chip when they sent Matt Garza to Texas, but work came down from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal on Saturday that they’re listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija and the Cubs discussed a contract extension over the winter without getting very far. He’s making $2.64 million this year in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

For that reason, the Cubs still see him as a building block rather than bait, but they could be persuaded to change their mind if the right offer comes along. It’d have to be a big one; the 28-year-old Samardzija is a modest 6-9 with a 3.94 ERA this year, but he’s struck out 139 in 137 innings and he gets a ton of grounders, too.

The Cubs would surely want two top prospects and one or two more lesser guys from the Braves, Diamondbacks, Red Sox or anyone else who comes asking. It’d be a high price to pay, but that Samardzija is probably a better long-term bet than any free agent starter available this winter could make him worth it.