There are no predetermined outcomes in baseball. The Red Sox could have escaped the second inning trailing only 1-0 in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series if Dustin Pedroia didn’t bobble a double-play ball with one out. But that doesn’t mean the result of the game would have changed.
The way Jake Peavy was pitching, without command of his fastball to either side of the plate, the Tigers might have scored anyway.
Still, it was surprising to see Pedroia make such a crucial mistake. With the bases loaded and a run in, Jose Iglesias hit a sharp grounder to second. But instead of a quick double play, Pedroia dropped the ball. By the time he recovered, the Sox were only able to get one out.
Frankly, they didn’t even get that out. Shortstop Stephen Drew was well off second base by the time Pedroia got the ball to him. Regardless, a run scored and it was 2-0.
“It was hit hard. It’s one of those things, he kind of backspun it and I thought it was going to hop up and it stayed down,” Pedroia said. “It landed in the web of my glove and we got one out instead of two. It’s my responsibility to turn double plays. We got a ground ball and I didn’t field it clean.”
Said manager John Farrell: “He squares it up and that’s a routine double play. We’ve seen it many times over.”
The mistake opened the door for a big inning that took the Red Sox out of the game.
Torii Hunter followed with a two-run double down the line in left and Miguel Cabrera with an RBI single. Peavy was down, 5-0, after a 31-pitch inning.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Peavy said. “We had our chances to get out of that inning and minimize the damage …That’s a tough play. Pedey, that’s not on him. I’ve got to do a better job.”
The series is 2-2 and is now a best-of-three for a spot in the World Series. The Red Sox have home-field advantage for Games 6 and 7 but Detroit has Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander lined up to pitch. That trio held the Sox to two runs on six hits over 21 innings in the first three games of the series and struck out 35.
Game 5 is Thursday night back at Comerica Park with Sanchez facing Jon Lester.
“Even stevens right now; nobody’s up,” David Ortiz said. “We’ve two more games to go; we’re going to try to win it. I’ve got my money on Lester.”
A few notes:
• Changes could be coming for the Red Sox. Drew was 0 for 4 and is 1 for 13 in the series. Will Middlebrooks was 0 for 2 and is 1 for 10. They are a combined 7 of 51 in the postseason.
Rookie Xander Bogaerts, who doubled in the ninth inning for his first postseason hit and later scored, could start Game 5 at one of those positions.
“Haven’t made a decision on tomorrow’s lineup,” Farrell said. “But we’re struggling a little bit to get some production out of that side. So, it’s something that’s being considered, for sure.”
• The Sox outhit the Tigers, 12-9, but 10 of the hits came after they were down, 5-0, and they were 2 for 16 with runners in scoring position. The Sox never really threatened Detroit starter Doug Fister, who cruised through six innings.
• Peavy allowed seven runs on five hits and three walks over three innings. He became only the fifth Red Sox starter to allow at least seven earned runs in a postseason game, the first since Josh Beckett in the 2008 ALCS against Tampa Bay.
It was the shortest playoff start for a Red Sox pitcher since Tim Wakefield lasted 2.2 innings against Tampa Bay, also in the 2008 ALCS.
Peavy is now 0-3 with a 10.31 earned run average in four career postseason starts.
• Brandon Workman, Ryan Dempster, Franklin Morales, and Felix Doubront combined for five innings of scoreless relief. The Red Sox bullpen has allowed two runs in 24.1 innings in the postseason.
• The 21-year-old Bogaerts is the youngest player to get a postseason hit for the Red Sox.
• The Red Sox have led for only four of the 36 innings in the series. The Sox have scored only nine runs in the first four games of the series and are hitting .186.
• Ortiz is 1 for 15 in the series, although the one hit was his tying grand slam in Game 2.
• Jacoby Ellsbury was 4 for 5 with a double and a triple and is 14 of 33 (.424) in the postseason.