For a moment, it appeared as though Dustin Pedroia had capped the Red Sox's comeback against the Orioles from a 5-0 deficit with a walk-off home run over the Green Monster. His shot off Orioles lefty Brian Matusz certainly had the familiar arc of a ball on its way out of Fenway Park... but it didn't go out, which only forestalled an even stranger ending.
On a night that began with a pregame ceremony to honor those affected by last year's bombing of the Boston Marathon, the Red Sox fell behind 3-0 in the first inning via a Nelson Cruz solo homer off Jake Peavy and a rally that added two more runs. The Orioles tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth to run their lead to 5-0, but Jonny Gomes' three-run homer chased Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez, and the Sox tied the game in the seventh, aided by a pair of infield errors, including yet another instance of the nefarious transfer rule being invoked.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Pedroia appeared to hit his first home run since last September 17, a span of 122 plate appearances. However, the ball hit near the top of the wall, and apparently through the outstretched hands of two souvenir-hungry fans. Leftfielder David Lough picked up the carom on one bounce and relayed the ball back to the infield as Pedroia stopped at second base with a double. Upon review by the umpires, the call on the field stood. Here's a GIF of the hit:
Here's a closer look at the ball hitting the Monster:
With David Ortiz at the plate, Matusz uncorked a wild pitch, sending Pedroia to third, whereupon the Orioles walked the Boston slugger intentionally. Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled Matusz in favor of righty sidearmer Darren O'Day, who hit Napoli on the left knee, which brought the Red Sox trainer out to attend to him. Once he finally took his base, Mike Carp came in to pinch-hit for Gomes. He lined O'Day's second pitch to Lough in leftfield, and then all hell broke loose.
With Pedroia tagging, Lough uncorked a throw that third baseman Jonathan Schoop — who was right at the edge of the dirt cutout around third base — should have cut off but didn't. Had he taken the throw, Pedroia almost certainly would have retreated. Instead, Schoop leaned out of the way, and the throw, which was far offline from the plate, went to the backstop and around to the first base side as Pedroia scampered home with the winning run:
[mlbvideo id="32254173" width="600" height="336" /]
Lough was charged with the error, but the mistake was really that of the 22-year-old rookie Schoop, who has started 11 games at third base in the absence of Manny Machado but who had started Sunday night's game at second base before moving to third in the bottom of the seventh; it was his throwing error on a Napoli grounder that allowed Grady Sizemore to score the tying run. Ouch.
Showalter tried to challenge the ruling on the field, apparently on the grounds that Pedroia had left third base early instead of tagging up properly. However, tagging up isn't reviewable via the expanded instant replay system, not that the call would have been overturned based on the video evidence shown by ESPN. The good news is that the Orioles won't have much time to dwell on their mistakes, as Monday's Patriots Day game starts at 11:05 AM at Fenway.