Daniel Nava’s short night features game-changing baserunning blunder, blown call at home in loss to Rays
|07.30.13 at 1:22 am ET|
Daniel Nava got mad — real mad — Monday night, and part of the anger was with himself.
One batter after he failed to score from second on Stephen Drew’s double to deep right field with one out in the eighth, Nava was called out at home by umpire Jerry Meals despite beating the throw from Rays left fielder Sam Fuld following Brandon Snyder’s line drive of medium depth to left. The play proved crucial as the Red Sox fell, 2-1, to the Rays, who moved back into first place by a half-game over the Sox.
The outcome got the attention of Red Sox owner John Henry, who shortly after the game tweeted, “A 2-game impact.”
Meals admitted his error to a pool reporter after the game.
“What I saw was: [Jose] Molina blocked the plate and Nava’s foot lifted,” Meals said. “But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava’s foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina’s shin guard.”
Nava, John Farrell and the crowd of 37,242 at Fenway Park agreed. Nava popped up, furious with the missed call, and it didn’t take long for his irate manager to come flying out of the dugout to back him up.
“It was missed call. Terrible call,” said Farrell, who was ejected by a silent Meals while arguing. “Clearly, the angle of Jerry Meals behind the plate when the throw came in, he did not see the view. Daniel Nava clearly was safe. It’s unfortunate. We should still be playing right now.”
Added Nava: “There was no doubt. I knew I was safe.”
The blame, however, did not all lie on Meals’ shoulders — Nava willingly took his fair share as well.
The series of unfortunate events went like this:
With one out in the eight, right-hander Joel Peralta came on in relief of lefty David Price, who pitched a sharp 7 1/3 innings. Ryan Lavarnway promptly greeted him with a line-drive double off the Monster, and Nava entered as a pinch-runner.
Drew sent Peralta’s very next pitch to deep right field, where Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers played it off the wall. Nava had taken a good-sized lead, but when it appeared from Nava’s perspective that Myers was going to catch it, he started to retreat back to the bag.
According to Farrell, it was that Nava’s momentum was going in the wrong direction — more than his actual position between second and third base — that prevented him from scoring.
“You’re schooled to, if the ball’s not caught, to score — to be in the position to be able to score,” Farrell said.
Nava, who had calmed down considerably by the time he talked to the media, willingly admitted to his error.
“I should have scored. It’s my fault, I should have scored,” Nava said. “You need to take more of an extended lead. I got halfway, and then as I saw the ball getting closer, I thought, ‘Wow, it looks like he’s about to catch this ball.’ I started to creep back to second. On one out, you have to keep extending, extending, because you’re trying to score, you’re not trying to get to third.
“I told myself the second before, and unfortunately I just didn’t do what I talked to myself mentally for.”
Then Snyder, who drove in the only Sox run of the game with a homer off the Pesky Pole in the sixth, came to the plate with runners on second and third and one out. He sent a drive to left, but it ended up a double play once Nava was called out tagging up from third.
Farrell said the decision to pinch run with Nava, as opposed to the quicker Jose Iglesias, who ended up entering as a pinch runner in the ninth during another failed rally, was an issue of matchups. He wanted to have the option to double switch and have Nava, a switch-hitter, stay in the lineup behind right-handed Jonny Gomes.
In the event that the Red Sox extended the game and faced a right-handed pitcher like Rays closer Fernando Rodney, that would have been more to Farrell’s liking than having right-handed Iglesias hit after Gomes.
But in the end, none of that mattered. Mike Napoli struck out swinging with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth to end it, giving the Rays the 2-1 win and leaving Nava in the odd position of being both the goat and robbed his chance to be a hero.
“On replays, you’d see that I was safe. I knew I was safe,” Nava said. “Unfortunately that situation, and obviously that’s what was called, but at the same time, I probably should have been there the at-bat before.”
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