Boston Red Sox: Moments where ALDS Game 1 was lost
By Sean Penney
Two outs, bottom of the ninth, down a run with Pedroia at the plate and a runner on first. The stage is set for a dramatic finish, only to end on… a check swing?
Is there a more deflating way to end a postseason game than having the umpire call the batter out on an accidental swing? When does that ever happen? Pedroia and Farrell both vehemently disagreed with the call, but their complaints would be for naught as the game ended in infuriating fashion.
Did Pedey swing? That’s debatable. There are a number of factors that umpires are expected to consider when calling a strike on a check swing. The first is if the head of the bat crossed the plate. If Pedroia’s did then it was ever so slightly, but it was borderline at best. Another factor would be if the hitter’s wrists break as he turns into the ball. In my opinion, Pedroia’s did not, but again, it’s a close call. Lastly, the umpire has to attempt to determine intent on the batter’s part. While this is open to a lot of interpretation, I don’t see how anyone outside of Cleveland watches that final pitch thinking that Pedroia wasn’t trying to hold up his swing.
This wasn’t the only time that borderline check swings went against the Red Sox, but it was the most significant. Boston batters struck out on several check swings among the 14 K’s piled up by Indians pitchers. Even more frustrating for Red Sox fans is that home plate umpire Brian Knight didn’t even bother to ask for help from his crew on a couple of those calls.
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A questionable umpire decision didn’t cost the Red Sox Game 1, especially since we don’t necessarily know that Holt would have delivered if Pedroia had been granted ball four. However, he should have at least been given the opportunity, as calling a batter out on a borderline check swing to end a playoff game is more questionable than the “swing” itself.