Avisail Garcia lifted a fly ball to right field, Daniel Nava drifted back to make the play – and then a sloppy game swung in Detroit’s favor for good.
Nava appeared to have the ball in his glove, but when it came free second base umpire Mike DiMuro ruled there was no catch. That was the first of two Boston errors that helped the Tigers score three runs in the eighth inning en route to a 7-5 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.
”Sometimes it’s your day, sometimes it isn’t,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Justin Verlander struggled again for Detroit, but the Tigers rallied to win when Boston made a complete mess of the last few innings. The Red Sox allowed Detroit to tie the game at 4 in the seventh on a hit batter with the bases loaded – and then in the eighth, they gave up three runs on one hit.
Boston was convinced afterward that DiMuro had gotten the game’s key call wrong.
”I know I made the catch,” Nava said. ”Sometimes calls go your way, sometimes they don’t.”
Nava, in right because Shane Victorino left the game with lower back tightness, went back toward the wall and tried to make an awkward-looking basket catch. A replay showed he might have lost the ball while transferring it from his glove to his throwing hand.
”To have a catch, you have to have complete control and voluntary release,” said crew chief Ted Barrett, the third base umpire. ”(DiMuro) had him with control, but did not have the voluntary release. When he flipped the ball out of his glove, he never got it into his hand. That’s not voluntary release.”
Boston manager John Farrell was ejected for arguing the call.
”When you spend the rest of the game in the clubhouse, you probably have a difference of opinion,” Farrell said. ”Clearly, the call was missed. He caught it, he went to transfer to his throwing hand, dropped it at that point.”
Garcia ended up on second, and Bryan Holaday’s bunt also worked out nicely for Detroit when pitcher Andrew Miller (0-2) threw wildly to first for another error, putting runners at first and third with nobody out in a tie game.
Austin Jackson walked, and Alex Wilson came on and allowed Torii Hunter’s sacrifice fly that gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead. Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked, and Prince Fielder hit a two-run single off Craig Breslow.
Joaquin Benoit (2-0) got the final four outs for the Tigers, although he allowed a run in the ninth.
The Tigers were fortunate just to tie it in the seventh. After Jackson’s leadoff single, Hunter hit a line drive that second baseman Dustin Pedroia dropped. It appeared the Red Sox might get a double play out of it, because Hunter was slow getting out of the batter’s box, but Jackson retreated to first.
Pedroia threw to first, retiring Hunter while Jackson was still standing on the base. When Boston retired Hunter, it meant Jackson was no longer forced to second, so he remained safely at first.
Cabrera and Fielder followed with singles to load the bases, and after Victor Martinez struck out, Jhonny Peralta was hit by a pitch to tie it at 4.
The Red Sox took a 4-3 lead in the fourth on Victorino’s run-scoring groundout.
Verlander allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out four, and his ERA went up to 3.90. It was the second straight start in which he lasted only five innings.
”That’s sports. There’s ups and downs. Nobody’s at the peak of their game forever,” Verlander said. ”I’ll get back there. I will. It’s just, like I said, finding that click – finding that rhythm.”
Detroit led 2-0 after the first inning, but Verlander gave up two runs in the second.
The Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the second, but Verlander again couldn’t hold the lead. Pedroia reached on an infield single, and David Ortiz’s single put runners on first and third. Mike Napoli’s grounder tied the game at 3.
Boston starter Felix Doubront was in trouble at the start, walking the first two Detroit hitters and then allowing Cabrera’s double that bounced over the wall in center field for the slugger’s 75th RBI of the year.
Fielder’s RBI groundout made it 2-0, but Jacoby Ellsbury made a nice sliding catch in center on Peralta’s drive for the third out, preventing any more scoring.
Detroit loaded the bases for Hunter with two outs in the fourth, but Victorino made a nice catch and held on while slamming into the wall in foul ground in right.
Boston is giving Andrew Bailey a break from closing after he lost Thursday’s game at Detroit in the ninth inning. He came on with a one-run lead in the seventh Sunday but allowed singles to Jackson and Cabrera before giving way to Miller.
Detroit’s bullpen has also been maligned this year, but Drew Smyly pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings before Benoit finished.
Fielder was Detroit’s designated hitter, leaving Martinez to make a rare appearance at first base. Martinez made a nice play in the sixth, diving to his left to knock down Ellsbury’s grounder, then flipping the ball backward to Smyly, who covered for the 3-1 putout.
Hunter made a tumbling catch in right for the last out of the game.
NOTES: Boston did not put LHP Franklin Morales on the DL after he exited Saturday night’s game with discomfort in his throwing shoulder. Farrell said Morales would be evaluated thoroughly on Monday. … Both teams are off Monday. Boston returns home and sends RHP Ryan Dempster (4-8) to the mound against Colorado RHP Juan Nicasio (4-3) on Tuesday night. Detroit’s homestand continues Tuesday night. Tigers RHP Rick Porcello (4-4) faces LHP C.J. Wilson (6-5) of the Los Angeles Angels.