Heads-up play swung momentum back to Sox
Pedroia's basket catch leads to Lavarnway making stellar block of home
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox won going away on Saturday night, beating the Twins, 12-5, at Target Field, but one play in the middle innings truly seemed to turn the tide -- and turned catcher Ryan Lavarnway upside down in the process.
The Twins scored three runs in the fifth and knocked out starter Ryan Dempster, cutting the Sox's lead to 7-5. After Boston went down in order in the sixth, Minnesota threatened to close the gap even further in the bottom half, loading the bases with one out. However, Sox reliever Craig Breslow induced Aaron Hicks to hit a pop fly to short right field. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a running basket catch near the foul line, then threw home to Lavarnway to nail Ryan Doumit attempting to tag up from third base, keeping the score 7-5.
Doumit, who weighs 220 pounds, tried to jar the ball loose from the 240-pound Lavarnway, but the Boston backstop held onto the ball and took quite a tumble in the process.
"That's the first time I've completed a backward somersault in a long time, so I'm pretty happy with it," Lavarnway said. "I think [Doumit] might have got the worst of it. I think my facemask might have hit him in the face, and I'm not a small person."
On the play, Pedroia had a long run to the foul line and caught the ball with his back to the infield, but he didn't hesitate in firing a strike to home plate.
"I kind of had to play it to the side a little bit and just spin and throw. I didn't know if he was running, so I just threw it home," Pedroia said. "The pitcher's backing up the play and expecting me to throw it, so even if I launched it, we had guys back there."
Breslow, who ended up earning the win, said he saw from his unique vantage point that Doumit was on the way and did what he could to let Lavarnway know.
"At first, I was surprised that he was coming, but given the situation, maybe it was a risk worth taking," Breslow said. "I was yelling as loud as I could that he was coming. [Lavarnway] said he heard something but wasn't quite sure what it was, but he realized after the collision that it was me telling him [Doumit] was coming.
"It was a clean play, just a good, hard-nosed baseball play on both sides. Fortunately nobody got hurt. It was definitely either a momentum-preserver or a tide-changer depending on how you look at it."
The Red Sox took advantage immediately, scoring four runs on two-run homers by David Ortiz and Daniel Nava the next half inning to effectively ice the game.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the play was at least partially the result of a possible miscommunication between Doumit and third-base coach Joe Vavra.
"Joe was telling [Doumit] off the bag that the ball might fall, but he just tagged up and tried to make a play," Gardenhire said. "He's an aggressive guy, but it didn't work out too well. Luckily he came out of it unhurt. He just tried to be aggressive and tried to make a play, but it wasn't too wise."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.