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Jarrod Saltalamacchia is having the worst of weeks

Oct 27, 2013, 12:56 AM EDT

Don’t blame Will Middlebrooks for the fluky obstruction call that ended Game 3. Don’t blame umpire Jim Joyce, who made the gutsy choice to call it and give the Cardinals a 5-4 victory.

Blame the guy who made the bad throw in the first place: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The struggling Saltalamacchia shouldn’t have even been in the game; Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted afterwards that he blew it by not double-switching in David Ross for Salty when he brought in Brandon Workman to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Salty had just grounded out with two on to end the top of the eighth.

There was also a great case for pinch-hitting for Saltalamacchia against left-hander Kevin Siegrist to start the seventh. Salty struggles against lefties anyway, and he’s been awful against everyone of late, striking out 19 times in the postseason. He fanned in that at-bat, and then Farrell pinch-hit Will Middlebrooks for Stephen Drew with one out and Jonny Gomes for the pitcher’s spot with two outs. If Farrell was going to go hog wild with pinch-hitters anyway, he should have had Gomes lead off and Ross bat for the pitcher.

On the crucial play in the ninth, Salty’s initial mistake was to throw the ball to third in the first place. One of the most effective relievers in the league was on the mound in Koji Uehara. One of the worst hitters in the league, Pete Kozma, was due to bat next with two outs. Even without taking that into consideration, the smart play was to put the ball in his back pocket. Given the matchup, it was a no-brainer.

But Salty made the throw, and it was a bad one. It was the second straight loss for the Red Sox swinging on an errant throw to third base. In Game 2, that throw was made by Craig Breslow from behind home plate. But the ball only made it to Breslow because Salty decided to keep his foot on home trying to handle Jonny Gomes’ relay instead of coming off the base to handle it. So, Salty had quite a hand in that loss as well. Throw in his struggles at the plate, and it seems unlikely that we’ll see him back in the lineup in Game 4. The free-agent-to-be will also sit out Game 5 with Jon Lester pitching (Ross has turned into his personal catcher), so it’s possible Salty has made his last start for the Red Sox.

  1. sabatimus - Oct 27, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Only thing I can do here is sullenly agree. I already angered my way through previous articles about the game.

  2. ditchparrot19 - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    Yep, this piece about sums it all up. That throw should not have been made considering that the weak-hitting Kozma was coming up next with two outs.

    The call by Joyce was correct. Mike Stanton’s on MLB Network Radio ranting and raving about how Middlebrooks had nowhere else to go, but obstruction doesn’t have to be intentional. If it happens, it happens, and it has to be called.

    • Jack Marshall - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:15 AM

      You really think that any fielder, in the midst of a play, calculates the likelihood of his pitcher getting the next batter out? Or before the play, says to himself, “Now, if I have a chance to throw out a runner in a close play on the bases, I won’t try because it’s not worth the risk because Kozma’s up next?” Seriously? That’s ridiculous. If a fielder sees a possible play, he tries to make it. I thought the catcher’s throw was unwise, but not because a weak hitter was coming up.

      • apkyletexas - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        No – but a smart fielder would make himself aware of the situation BEFORE the play occurs. A smart catcher would be telling himself before the play – “now we’ve got Kozma coming up, so if there’s a play, all we’ve got to do is hold the runner on third”.

        In fact, being that the catcher should be helping with setting up pitches based on the opposing lineup’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s amazing that Saltalamacchia was NOT thinking about a light-hitting Kozma coming up next.

      • stex52 - Oct 27, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Yes, actually, I have seen a lot of fielders restrain the impulse and make the right play. It isn’t easy, but that’s why they are major leaguers.

      • ditchparrot19 - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:09 PM

        You’re damn straight, Jack! It’s really not much different than an intelligent player not attempting to stretch a double into a triple with two outs, choosing instead to remain safely in scoring position.

        Lots of players are capable of doing it.

    • sumerduckman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Kozma did pretty well for himself in the ninth inning of last years NLDS game 5.

  3. jeffbbf - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    I blame Middlebrooks for not catching the throw. He whiffed the same way Kozma whiffed in game 1. took his eye off the ball. A good throw from Salty might have nailed Craig, but it wasn’t so bad that it should have gotten past Middlebrooks.

    • Jack Marshall - Oct 27, 2013 at 5:16 AM

      The runner was sliding into him as he tried to make the catch. YOU try it. This game has generated the most absurd second-guessing I’ve ever seen.

      • jeffbbf - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        Well, no. . Craig was starting to go down into his slide, and Middlebrooks was trying to catch and tag. He missed the ball.
        And I have tried it. Haven’t always been successful, but I know the play. Come out from behind the bag, catch the ball, keep the runner from scoring. Again, the throw wasn’t that bad. Not good enough to nail Craig, but certainly catchable.

  4. drewzducks - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    How not to play heading into free agency in 3 easy lessons…

    • sabatimus - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:19 AM

      Very true. Thanks for making me laugh, I needed that after all this crap I just witnessed.

      • drewzducks - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:56 AM

        A shot of Jack then a quick review of the B’s domination of the Devils then…oh shit, not again…I think I woke up and it was June 24 all over again. Not a good night for the locals.

      • borderline1988 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        Screw you Boston. I feel absolutely no sympathy.

        Leafs fan

  5. ezthinking - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    Blame it on the Jeri-curl. That shit eats into a brain like no other.

  6. mvpcowboys - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Why does middlebrooks keep his foot on the bag when the throw is way offline. Come off the bag and stop the bad throw, not a force play gotta stop the ball anyway cause your catcher can’t throw to anybase right.

    • apkyletexas - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      Same mistake Saltalamacchia made in game 2. Red Sox have a few things they can prepare to work on in spring training – after they lose the next two games.

  7. wheels579 - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    I can’t defend Salty for his defense but I imagine there was a reluctance to burn the second catcher. Salty should know better. That’s on him, not Farrell. At least this wasn’t another saber-snob piece.

    • papichulo55 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      It IS on Farrell to remind Salty, and the whole team, that this game is OVER. Win Sunday night, and it becomes a best-of-three, with atleast one game back in Boston. Farrell must get all of his team to forget about the obstruction call, AND the missed called strikes. The Red Sox will need everybodys A-Game to beat these Cardinals. Not a fan of either team, but this is good baseball.

  8. anxovies - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Not a Boston fan (Yankees) but Saltalamacchia was just trying to make a play and it didn’t work out. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    • ezthinking - Oct 27, 2013 at 2:16 AM

      Throwing out “the runner of play’s past?”

    • apkyletexas - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Yankee fans should know all about controversial World Series interference calls. Remember this one?

      Reggie Jackson throws his hip into the line of a throw to Steve Garvey at first base in 1981. Tommy Lasorda loses his mind. Classic.

  9. wheels579 - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    One more thing worth noting: Salty had the game-winner in the epic ALCS GM 2 comeback. Bad decision tonight, no question. But you can’t run him out of town now without acknowledging that he helped get them here by coming through in a big spot. Just to be fair…

  10. Tim's Neighbor - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    It’ll be pretty interesting next year when Pouliot starts managing in the big leagues with all of these hindsight coaching knowledge bombs he’s been dropping lately. Can’t wait.

    • drewzducks - Oct 27, 2013 at 1:59 AM

      I think he’s already slotted in as Craig C’s bench coach.

    • ezthinking - Oct 27, 2013 at 2:14 AM

      The Reds, Nats, Tigers, et. al. called you yet?

      No opinion on Pouliot. Just thought I’d get the scoop.

    • apkyletexas - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      @Tim’s Neighbor – it’s a sports blog. Guys are supposed to give their opinions on the games. Think of something relevant to criticize.

  11. asportsfan - Oct 27, 2013 at 2:03 AM

    Just a sports fan here.

    This will do it for the RedSox, unless the Cards gift one to them. Not going to happen.
    It seems the Boston/NE teams have a knack of presenting gifts in the Championship games/series. Games 2, 3 of this world series. Pats gifted one to the Giants thru Wes Welker dropped pass.

  12. matt14gg - Oct 27, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    To watch Jarrod Saltalamacchia over a long period of time is to know he is not a very good baseball player.

    • cybellekate - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Nobody who has been paying attention and has any common sense thinks Salty is a bad player. He carried the Sox into the Postseason with a .600+ winning record with him behind the plate. He’s still a young catcher, playing in his first Postseason after catching more than he ever had before and he’s simply run out of gas. He made a mistake. He is not a bad player and I can refer you to a hundred or so articles praising him from everyone from Carlton Fisk to Gordon Edes.

  13. theskinsman - Oct 27, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    This one will hurt for a long time. It’s possible the Sox can come back, but given the pitching tonight,I’m not betting on it.

    • emykk - Oct 27, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      It may help that Lynn is also pitching tonight. Trust me, we Cards fans are not feeling confident about him. The man’s a heart attack pitcher. My blood pressure will probably be through the roof before this game is over.

      • theskinsman - Oct 28, 2013 at 6:54 PM

        I guess you knew what the heck you were talking about!

  14. 8man - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    All of this occurred to me almost instantaneously as soon as I saw Salty release that ball. That’s two games he’s helped give up. That may just be the end for him in Boston and the end for Boston in this year’s fall classic.

    Actually not a good week. Don’t forget the Patriots hideous loss to the Jets in OT. I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen the Patriots, Bs and Sox literally give away games they had won or take themselves out a chance to win it. Oddly enough, penalties of some sort were involved in all losses. Hopefully all of this crap ends today

  15. zurnvs - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    F**k Boston, yes I’m a hater.

    • nbjays - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      Also a moron.

  16. vipod4ever - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Everyone, all together now…exhale, inhale. This wasn’t the 7th game or the 6th game. One win in STL and back to Boston. Again, exhale, inhale.

    • 8man - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Yeah. Hoping. A win tonight and then it’s the best two of three with the final ones in Boston.

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