BOSTON, MA: Jim Leyland #10 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after being thrown out of the game by first base umpire Chris Guccione, right, as third base umpire Tim Tschida steps between them in the second inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Yesterday, the Red Sox arguably won the game because of a bad call: a foul tip gloved cleanly by Gerald Laird was ruled to have hit the ground, giving Aviles and the Red Sox new life when the inning should have been over. They would score three runs before the frame came to an end.
A bad call, yes, but one that would have been avoided had the game ended in the eighth with the score at 7-2. Unfortunately, Alfredo Aceves gave up two runs in the ninth, leaving the difference at the end of the game that three-run second inning, and leading to some suggestions that perhaps the Red Sox were gifted the game.
If you ask me, that's an awful stretch.
It's always a messy business to play hypothetical baseball, assuming that whatever happened before would have happened again, but that's the business said disgruntled Tiger fans are about, and we have to play by the same rules. In that case, then, what situation does Doug Fister find himself in in the third? It's not as though he'd been pitching tremendously before the second inning, giving up a great deal of contact and not getting the ground balls he needs to succeed. Aviles staying alive may have cost him a run in the second, but it wouldn't have saved him any of the other baserunners he allowed. The Sox would have had one in and one on before the Tigers recorded an out in the third--enough to still have the lead even if we assume the rest of the scoring stayed the same.
It's unfortunate that the game had to go down the way it did, and Tiger fans have the right to be annoyed that they weren't given the opportunity to see how it would have played out otherwise. But those who are making it out as the umpires gifting the Red Sox a win are oversimplifying things. The Sox did outplay the Tigers yesterday, and even if they got some measure of help from the umpires, it was hardly the only difference in the match.
The simple fact is that Doug Fister was not good yesterday, and Felix Doubront was.