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The Nava shuffle won't haunt the Red Sox

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  July 30, 2013 09:57 AM

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Let’s be clear: Monday night isn’t going to “haunt” the Red Sox.

The continued, mysterious, and frustrating absence of Clay Buchholz might. The losses of both Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan might. The fact that Will Middlebrooks can’t hit a pitch a pixel out of his wheelhouse might.

But last night? Nope.

In terms of the standings come September, Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays might sting about as badly as the 5-2 loss to the Yankees back on July 20, another game affected by the same poor baserunning mistakes that cost the Red Sox first place against the Rays.

A frustrating loss? Sure. The most costly of the season? Hardly.

In other words, Monday night is little different than each of the other 43 losses in the right column.

Blame umpire Jerry Meals all you want for his putrid call at home plate, but this game was on Daniel Nava’s inability to navigate between second and third base on a ball Stephen Drew hit to the right field wall. It’s not only foolhardy to fail to score on that hit, it’s inexcusable.

It’s always entertaining when a player and his manager argue a call at the plate by pointing down at it, as if that’s going to suddenly change the umpire’s mind. “Oh, that thing? Well, OK then.” In fact, Meals probably called Nava out at home subconsciously simply for his lapse of intelligence on the previous play.

“It was a missed call. A terrible call,” said manager John Farrell, who became the second Red Sox member ejected over the last three games. “Clearly the angle of Jerry Meals behind the plate when the throw came in, he did not see the view. … He was blocked out of the play. You see the reaction of the base runner. They tell you everything.”

To be fair, both Farrell and Nava acknowledged the baserunning blunder, but please, like the Red Sox won’t be the beneficiary of another call somewhere along the line against the Mariners, Astros, or Diamondbacks. Yes, while Boston evened their way to a 5-5 start out of the All-Star break against the Yankees, Orioles, and Rays, that should have been somewhat close to expect against its stiffest competition. Now the Sox are rewarded with a stretch that delivers them Seattle, Houston, Arizona, Kansas City, and Toronto. Outside of the Diamondbacks (54-51), they don’t face a team currently above .500 until the Yankees (55-50) on Aug. 16.

See, all good news….

Except that the Rays have pretty much the same schedule heading into August.

So…well, damn, last night might have been a good one to have.

Why we insist that a loss in April isn’t as important as a loss in September is beyond me. Ask the 2011 Red Sox if they’d like any of their six losses back to start the season, and since it would mean a trip to the postseason, the answer would probably still be, “Whatever,” based on the competitive core (Hello, Adrian Gonzalez) of that team. Ask the fans, of course, and you’d get a resoundingly different answer.

Monday night was no different. A loss is a loss is a loss.

You’ll just remember this one more than the 3-2 loss to Baltimore on April 11 because of the incomparable intensity it brought, a matter of entertainment that might have only been better had Felix Doubront been more on his game against Tampa’s nasty David Price. You recall the good ones, win or lose.

This was one of the good ones. And one of the worst. Or maybe I’m just confused.

Either way, the only way this game “haunts” the Red Sox is if Farrell pinch runs Nava instead of Jose Iglesias again. Pavlov had his canine; the Red Sox manager has Jerry Meals to remind him next time the situation arises.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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