Boston Red Sox fans have long known that watching a catcher deal with a knuckleball can be a painful sight.
So much so that one May evening in 2006, the Red Sox traded to reacquire knuckleball-catching Doug Mirabelli. After they chartered him cross country in a private jet, had a police escort meet him at Logan Airport at 6:48 PM, got him to Fenway Park by 7 p.m. while he changed into his game jersey in the back seat, he was behind home plate catching for Tim Wakefield by 7:15.
Well, they could have used Mirabelli on Tuesday night.
Steven Wright had his knuckler dancing, but the problem was that it was dancing right past catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Wright only lasted one inning, only allowed one hit and two walks, but also allowed three runs.
How, you ask? Lavarnway tied a MLB record by allowing four passed balls in a single inning, a feat accomplished twice before in MLB history. It was first done when Ray Katt struggled to get a hold of Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm‘s knuckle ball in 1954, and most recently happened in 1987 when Gino Petralli tried to catch Charlie Hough, not surprisingly another knuckleballer.
In addition to his struggles behind the plate, Lavarnway hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire with the bat. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the starting catcher, but in the 15 games Lavarnway has played, he has yet to hit a home run. In fact, he has just four RBIs in his 47 at-bats. This once highly-touted prospect has certainly fallen short of expectations in his first three season with the big league club.