Dustin Pedroia left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed in Tuesday night. It was a smart move despite robbing us all of what would have been colorful remarks in the wake of his ejection.
Smart because ripping umpire Paul Nauert to the media would only increase the fine he has coming from Major League Baseball. And also because, we suspect, Pedroia is a little embarrassed.
For all his Napoleonic bluster, Pedroia has only been ejected one other time in his career and that was back in 2008. Getting tossed in a game the Sox really needed to win — and let's be honest, every game left is pretty much in that category — is nothing to be proud of.
With his team down by two runs in the eighth inning, Pedroia checked his swing on a two-strike pitch the turned to his left.
When he turned back, Pedroia was shocked to learn that first base umpire Paul Nauert ruled it a swing on appeal. Replays showed that Pedroia appeared to hold up. It was a pretty bad call.
“It looked like he checked his swing from our vantage point,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “Can’t get it back.”
As he walked slowly back to the dugout, Pedroia yelled at Nauert. The umpire then held up his hand, saying he had heard enough. Pedroia sat as close as he could to first base and kept shouting.
Pedroia did not look at Nauert when he took the field in the ninth inning. But he was ejected after five pitches, his anger bubbling over.
Valentine did his best to join Pedroia in the clubhouse, but Nauert would not eject him as he jumped around and waved his arms.
“I was pretty angry and supporting my guy. Probably said more to him than I said other times and gotten thrown out,” Valentine said. “He wasn’t going to throw me out unless I made a complete fool of myself or punched him or something.”
Shortstop Mike Aviles said Pedroia was angrier than he had ever witnessed before.
“People might think we’re going through the motions. But that’s not the case,” Aviles said. “We’re coming to the park trying to find ways to win. That’s a perfect example of how much guys care. It’s late in the game and Pedey’s up there battling. He’s trying not to give away an at-bat. For him to get fired up like that, it just shows you we don’t think our season is over.”
Meanwhile . . .
• Jon Lester was brilliant for five innings and bad for two. The Sox are a shocking 8-15 when he starts. "I can't keep talking about being frustrated. It's like beating a dead horse," Lester said.
It's a testament to how bad Lester's season has been that a 4.79 ERA in the last three starts is looked on as an improvement.
These things happen. Justin Verlander was 11-17, 4.84 in 2008. Tim Lincecum is 6-11, 5.43 this season. Now Lester is 5-10, 5.36.
• Years from now, the 2012 season will probably be best remembered for being the rookie year of Will Middlebrooks. His pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning gave him 14 dingers and 51 RBIs on the season. Not bad for a player who spent nearly all of 2011 in Double A.
You'd like to see Middlebrooks get his on-base percentage (.322) up a little. But he has a terrific swing and his defense is getting better and better. Along with the home run, he made a sweet barehanded play on Adrian Beltre in the eighth inning.
• Carl Crawford is swinging the bat so much better. But getting picked off second in the first inning with Pedroia up was beyond terrible.
• Did trade deadline rumors somehow contribute to Josh Beckett having a sore back? He seems to think so.
The righthander came out of his start on July 31 because of a muscle spasm. On WAAF radio Tuesday morning, he offered an unusual explanation about what happened.
“We traveled in late from New York [two nights before], and I didn’t sleep particularly well. I had a lot of anxiety and stress things going on, exterior distractions. I don’t think a lot of it was great for my back,” Beckett said. “Then going out and pitching on that mound, it was very wet and my back just locked up on me.”
Beckett then said that it was “different” to hear his name in trade rumors.
“I still had to answer questions about it, so it was very confusing,” he said. “That’s where I think the anxiety comes in. It’s not so much stress, it’s more anxiety than anything because you’re not real sure how things are going.”
Two things: Beckett has full no-trade rights. So he could have ended any talks any time he wanted to. Beckett also didn't have to answer any questions beyond those coming from media outlets of his choosing. He is virtually never available for interviews.
• There may be a roster move coming and it could be Mark Melancon going back to Pawtucket. He threw 30 pitches tonight and with Beckett on the mound Wednesday for a day game, the Sox may need their bullpen.
Speaking of tomorrow, we'll catch you then. Thanks to everybody for reading today.