By BRENDAN McGAIR
BOSTON – If Jarrod Saltalamacchia could turn back the hands of time to the seventh inning of Game 2 of the World Series, the Red Sox catcher would.
The double steal that St. Louis executed with Pete Kozma swiping third base and John Jay taking third base was aided when Saltalamacchia dropped the ball on the transfer.
“It just popped out of my glove,” said Saltalamacchia following Boston’s 4-2 loss to St. Louis, a defeat that evened the best-of-seven series at one win apiece. “It was one of those things when (Kozma) didn’t have a good jump so I might have gotten big-eyed too big too quick. He would have been out if I could have transferred the throw. That’s the way it goes. You just kind of turn the page and move on to the next one.”
Saltalamacchia and his teammates did have a chance to atone against the Cardinals – a team that ranked dead last in the National League in stolen bases during the regular season. With the bases loaded after Craig Breslow walked the first St. Louis batter he faced, Chris Carpenter lifted a shallow fly ball to left field that appeared deep enough for Kozma to score from third without much in the way of resistance.
Jonny Gomes made the catch in left and quickly came up firing. His throw ended up conjuring a myriad of possibilities in Saltalamacchia’s mind. Do I concede what would have been the game-tying run, or do I block the plate and brace for a collision with Kozma?
Describing what happened, Saltalamacchia said Gomes’ throw ended up pulling him up the first base line ever so slightly. Still intent on keeping vigil of the plate, Saltalamacchia watched as the throw snuck past him and toward Breslow, who was backing up the play.
“It tailed away a little bit, but there’s a lot of things that could have happened,” Saltalamacchia said. “I could have let (Kozma) score and caught the ball. I could have gotten around the ball and tried to catch and dive. There’s a lot of things you could look back on and try to change, but it’s time to move on.”
Said Red Sox manager John Farrell, “Salty is trying to hold his ground. We know the importance of the run at that spot. To say that he’s got to come off and field the throw, the ball ends up going off the tip of his glove. There’s no second-guessing on Salty’s approach there.”
What happened next was the definition of a rare defensive breakdown by Boston. Breslow airmailed a throw that was intended to cut down Jay at third base. Instead, it ended up in the seats as Jay ended up scoring the winning run. The Cardinals would go on to add another run to make it a three-run seventh inning.
As much as the Cardinals were maligned for committed three errors in Game 1, the Red Sox paid a steep price for the two errors along several mental miscues they committed in Game 2.
“Uncharacteristic of the way I think we’ve taken care of the baseball this year, and it contributed to those runs,” said Farrell.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03