Turning point was early
NEW YORK — Mike Aviles waited too long. Raul Ibanez wasted no time making him pay.
With runners on the corners and one out in the first inning Friday night, Red Sox starter Aaron Cook induced a sharp ground ball from the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia fielded it and threw to his shortstop at the second base bag. Aviles gathered the throw and calmly relayed to first.
The only problem was Teixeira was ruled safe, beating the throw after Aviles took too much time getting the ball out of his glove.
Ibanez, the next batter, launched a two-run homer that wiped out Boston’s 1-0 lead and opened the floodgates in a 10-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
“It was an awkward throw,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “I’m not sure if he took more time than he had to or if he needed a better grip on it. Whatever it was, we didn’t turn it. We just misfired.”
It began a poor defensive night for Aviles. In the third, with Derek Jeter on first after a leadoff single, Curtis Granderson hit a grounder up the middle. Pedroia went to cover second. Aviles hesitated going after the ball. The delay was enough to let it skirt by, and allow Jeter to move to third. He later scored on a sacrifice fly from Teixeira that restored the Yankees’ two-run advantage.
“We were trying to position ourselves in the right spot, and the ball got right through,” Pedroia said. “I went to the base, because I thought [Aviles] was going to be right there. I was playing over, so that’s one of those ones where it just got by us.”
Aviles’s two miscues didn’t go down in the box score as errors. But the Sox gave New York two extra outs, and the Bronx Bombers capitalized.
“We’ve just got to know where we are,” Pedroia said. “That’s a tough play for Mike, because he’s got to get all his momentum going one way and then throw back the other way.
“But we’ve got to turn that ball, especially with the team they have and the offense like that. We take pride in making sure we turn double plays. And we just didn't do it.”
Entering Friday, Aviles had been part of more double plays (76) than any other major league shortstop, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. But with the shift on against Teixeira in the first (the switch-hitter was batting lefthanded), Aviles was forced to approach second base from an unfamiliar angle.
“It was one of those deals where Mikey was in a bad spot,” Pedroia said. “They just hit it hard right to me, so I just tried to turn and throw it to him. I don’t think he found the bag.”
After Ibanez’s homer, Cook retired Andruw Jones on one of the seven ground outs he induced through four innings.
“Our guys have been playing great defense behind me all year,” Cook said. “It’s one of those things, it was an odd play, it happened.”
And for as slow as Aviles was in turning that potential inning-ending double play, he made a beeline out of the visitor’s clubhouse after the game.
“I ain’t got nothing to say,” Aviles told reporters. “Sorry.”
Alex Prewitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org