Game-tying homers in the 9th are exciting enough, but even more so when they’re the inside-the-park variety.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Austin Meadows provided that party trick on Monday afternoon, and just may have stabbed the Red Sox season in the heart while doing so.
It would have helped if either Hunter Renfroe in right, or J.D. Martinez in left, hadn’t been cutting their nails and watching their friends play baseball and instead had backed up Alex Verdugo, because the shortstop shouldn’t be the one retrieving the ricochet off of the wall as Jose Iglesias does. Tampa would win in extras.
“Sun ball obviously hurt us a lot,” said Renfroe after the game. “I’ve told y’all before, the big ball of fire in the sky is undefeated. You can’t fight it and win. It happened to [Verdugo] there. If he would’ve hit the ball to right field between the sixth and 10th inning, both right fielders couldn’t see anything, me included. That’s a tough one to lose there. Four runs. Obviously, it sucks that it happened, but you get over it, keep going.”
The loss kept the Red Sox behind the Yankees for the first wild-card spot, but let the Blue Jays creep a game closer, and the A’s a half-game closer without even playing, while the Mariners didn’t lose any ground. The Red Sox are 16-19 since August 1, and have two more games with the Rays before seeing the White Sox and Mariners on the road. If they can hold on through that, there’s a lot of Orioles, Mets, and Nationals to close out the season. But this is going down to the wire, and not keeping Meadows from circling the bases unnecessarily feels like it could sting in about three weeks.