Sometimes acting skills can be a valuable asset in a professional athlete. In other sports, a good flopper can sell a call to an official in a crucial moment. In baseball, you just need a good lobbyist.
The Boston Red Sox got a break in last night’s 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles. In the fourth inning, with the Red Sox down 2-0, leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia swung and missed at what clearly was strike three. However, Pedroia somehow used his skills of persuasion to convince the home plate umpire that he had foul-tipped the ball, which Baltimore catcher Taylor Teagarden caught after it hit the ground.
Replays clearly show that Pedroia was either hearing things, or was a great salesman, because the ball never struck his bat. Nevertheless, Pedroia was given a second life and he took advantage of it. After singling, Pedroia stole second base on a David Ortiz strikeout before scoring on a two run shot from Mike Carp. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s one run that the Red Sox did not earn.
Later on in the inning, Jonny Gomes singled to left, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia flied out to center, which should have been the third out. Instead it gave Stephen Drew the opportunity to earn his $9.5 million by doubling in Gomes for the third run of the inning. The second run that the Red Sox did not deserve now counted for a 3-2 lead.
The Red Sox stretched the lead to 5-2, making the bad call on the Pedroia strikeout meaningless. However, in the ninth inning, Matt Wieters hit a two-run home run to bring the score to 5-4, before Ryan Flaherty hit into a double play to end the game.
The net result of the Pedroia sales job in the fourth inning was two runs the Red Sox did not earn, in a game that they won by one run. In a season where the push for the playoffs could very likely come down to a single game, the Red Sox should thank their leader for his impressive skills of persuasion. Without it, the Red Sox would be only half a game up on their AL East rival. Instead they sit at a more comfortable two and half games up going into the finale on Sunday.