An insane ending to an insane World Series game rife with so many bizarre occurrences that it seems like something out of fiction. Bad fiction.
But in the end it's all-too-real, and the Red Sox are down 2-1 in the World Series as a result.
This story is too long and torturous to tell in anything approaching a full narrative, so let's go piece-by-piece.
Jake Peavy started bad. Really bad. Of the seven batters he faced in the first, Peavy allowed five rockets. One of his outs was free-of-charge with Carlos Beltran laying down a silly bunt on a 3-1 count, another came on one of those rockets, the third on the only weak contact that Peavy could take credit for in the inning. Still, he survived with just two earned runs, and went on to pitch three more innings without allowing a run, though he had to get out of a bases loaded, zero outs situation in the fourth to do so.
The Red Sox didn't fight back against Joe Kelly until the middle innings, when Xander Bogaerts started a run-scoring rally with a leadoff triple in the fifth. The next inning saw another run come in with Daniel Nava singling home Shane Victorino, and the game was tied.
It didn't last long. The Cardinals put together a nickle-and-dime inning off Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa, two runs scoring on an infield single, the closest of HBP (grazing Beltran's elbow guard), and a ground ball double from Matt Holliday that Will Middlebrooks, fresh into the game, really should have at least knocked down.
That lead would vanish even quicker than the tie it came from. A single from Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino HBP put two men on for the Red Sox in the top of the eighth. Electing not to face David Ortiz, the Cardinals intentionally loaded the bases with one down for Daniel Nava, who beat out a double play to bring one run home. Behind him, Xander Bogaerts bounced a high chopper up the middle that Pete Kozma couldn't quite make a play on, leaving the game knotted up at four once again.
Here's where the...interesting decisions come in. With two down and two on, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was allowed to hit despite Mike Napoli being on the bench. Then, when that chance had gone by the wayside, Brandon Workman was given his first professional at bat while the team's typical starting first baseman languished, waiting for extra innings that would never come.
The ending, though, is where it all hits critical mass. A one-out bloop single from Yadier Molina brought Koji Uehara into the game, but the usually reliable closer couldn't prevent an Allen Craig double to left. Needing just a productive out, Jon Jay slapped a ground ball towards second, where Dustin Pedroia made the play and threw home for the out.
Now, Game 2 was decided by a terrible throw to third from home by Craig Breslow, trying to get an extra out when he really should have just held onto the ball. You'd think Jarrod Saltalamacchia would have learned from having been right there. Not so. With two outs, Salty threw to third trying to catch the advancing baserunner. The ball, predictably, got away, sending Will Middlebrooks to the ground at Allen Craig's feet. Craig attempted to rise, tripped over Middlebrooks, and stumbled before racing home, and being caught in front of the plate by Saltalamacchia. Except that last bit didn't matter, obstruction had been called.
It's a play which has inspired more controversy in the hour since it happened than perhaps any other in recent memory. And I'm sure we'll talk about it right up until Game 4 starts, and perhaps after that. But at least for my two cents, if Will Middlebrooks isn't sprawled on the ground, then Craig scores easily, so we're kind of fishing for undeserved gifts here if we go complaining about the call. And if Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn't make that same damn throw that just lost Game 2, then we're never in the situation to lose on that call in the first place.
It was a fantastic ballgame. It might well go down in time as one of the most memorable World Series games of all time. And it was a thoroughly miserable experience, almost from beginning to end.
Read more Red Sox:
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- This is it: An oral history of the Red Sox' season so far
- Xander Bogaerts: The next Red Sox superstar
- Xander Bogaerts, Michael Wacha prove the future is now