Red Sox: Brock Holt explains embarrassing mistake allowing home run
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox outfielder Brock Holt explains what happened on the inside-the-park home run hit by Hunter Pence in a loss to the Rangers.
Giving up home runs is part of the game. It happens to every pitcher and it doesn’t necessarily mean they made a mistake. Sometimes good hitters can take a good pitch out of the park. When the opponent is credited with an inside-the-park home run because the outfielders didn’t bother to chase after the ball, that’s a mistake by the defense – an embarrassing one. Brock Holt didn’t steer away from admitting so following the latest loss by the Boston Red Sox.
Boston’s swiss army knife made a rare appearance in right field on Tuesday with Mookie Betts shifting over to center when Andrew Benintendi‘s 5th inning ejection forced an outfield realignment (speaking of embarrassing, this wasn’t a great night for the umpires in this game).
With one out and a man on second in the top of the sixth inning, Hunter Pence drilled a first-pitch 90 mph fastball that was left over the middle of the plate by Bobby Poyner. It wasn’t a good pitch and clearly a mistake by the lefty reliever. That’s nothing compared to what happened next.
Holt chased the fly ball as it sliced toward the Pesky Pole before he went crashing into the wall in right field. The ball bounced off the fence and rolled out toward the 380-foot marker before eventually resting idly in front of the Red Sox bullpen. Moments later, Betts casually strolled over to pick up the baseball while Pence raced home for the inside-the-park homer.
It would have taken a miraculous play for Holt to make the catch so extra bases seemed inevitable. But all the bases? That can’t happen.
The initial reaction to watching this play was that Holt must be hurt. He lay slumped over the fence while the action continued, his legs dangling slightly above the field. While Holt was shown holding his ribs in obvious discomfort, he remained in the game and seemed no worse for wear.
Holt also didn’t use an injury as an excuse for why he didn’t chase after the ball. As he explained to reporters after the game during NESN’s postgame coverage, he simply lost sight of the ball and assumed it went over the fence.
"“I thought it went over the fence,” said Holt. “So it was one of those things where I’ve kind of got to know where the ball is. The ball was slicing away from me, and when I ended up two rows deep in the stands I figured, or I assumed that it had gone out. I had no idea that it was still in play. So that’s kind of embarrassing on my part. So I’ve got to do a better job of paying more attention, and yeah that one was on me.”"
Keeping your eye on the ball is the first rule of being an outfielder, although I suppose Holt can be excused when his face was practically in the laps of the fans in the front row. The lack of urgency to look for the ball was a bit concerning though. Perhaps he got the wind knocked out of him and couldn’t react immediately? That would be an acceptable reason but Holt never mentioned it and that scenario would make his explanation about thinking the ball was over the fence seem bizarre.
We tend to believe that any fly ball hit to right field is going to be caught because that’s where Betts typically roams. As the center fielder, it was his job to back up Holt on the play only it appeared he made no effort to do so. Granted, he had a lot of ground to cover with the outfield playing the right-handed Pence to pull. Maybe he couldn’t get to the ball in time to make a difference. Manager Alex Cora wasn’t sure when asked after the game, stating he’d need to watch the replay before speaking to his players.
Holding Pence to a triple wouldn’t have saved this game – he would have scored anyway on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s base hit that immediately followed. Still, when the team is struggling, a little hustle would be appreciated.
Boston has lost five of their last six games to fall to .500 on the season, making the reigning champions the biggest underachievers in baseball. Whether it was a mental mistake or a lack of effort, this was bad baseball that a restless fan base refuses to accept.