Chasing Sox, breaks go Rays' way at Fenway
Upton's broken-bat grounder opens door to four-run frame
BOSTON -- When you're up, you're up. And when you're down, well, broken bats fly your way on a two-out ground ball and lead to four runs for the team that's chasing you down for a postseason berth.
At least that was the case for the Red Sox on their way to a 9-2 loss to the Rays on Thursday night.
With the Rays in town for a pivotal four-game series, Boston starter Kyle Weiland picked up the first two outs in the third inning with both teams still scoreless and runners at first and second. Weiland then got a routine ground ball off the bat off the bat of B.J. Upton that rolled toward Marco Scutaro at short. But Upton's broken bat skipped along the Fenway Park infield and hopped right between the legs of Scutaro, causing the shortstop to jump out of the way and the ball to roll into left field for an RBI single.
"It's a piece of wood that's very sharp and coming kind of fast, so it's scary," Scutaro explained afterward. "I was going to get hit if I would have stayed there. There was no doubt about that. If I would have waited back for the ball, I don't think I would have gotten him out. It was kind of a weird play. I've never seen that before."
One run might have not been so bad for the 25-year-old Weiland. But after getting ahead 1-2 to Evan Longoria in the next at-bat, Weiland left a fastball over the middle and Longoria made him and the Red Sox pay, belting a three-run homer to right field as the Rays took an early 4-0 lead.
"Yeah, it's just a little bit of bad luck and one mistake," Weiland said. "That's pretty much all it was. You can't do much about the broken bat. That's just what it is. It happens. Not very often that they're that close together. Can't blame [anyone]. It was just one mistake -- 1-2 pitch that got too much of the plate. I wish I had that one back, but that's what it is."
A little bit of luck might be what the Rays needed, as they moved to within three games of the Red Sox for the American League Wild Card spot heading into Friday.
"You're always looking for signs," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Looking for signs, man, from that baseball heaven, the baseball gods, they've got to throw you a sign once in a while. They've got to give you something to further believe."
"That is definitely a first for me," added Upton, "but I'll take it. Enough things haven't gone our way this year, so I think we're going to take that."
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn't blame Scutaro for jumping out of the way of the bat on the play.
"I don't know how I would react if I was there," said Saltalamacchia. "All I know is the ball and the bat were in the same spot, so it's a tough play for him to make."
How can Scutaro deal with a similar situation in the future?
"I thought maybe tomorrow I'm going to tell [third-base coach Tim Bogar] to hit me ground balls and also some bats," said Scutaro. "I'm going to work on that."
Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.