Watching these playoffs, you realize baseball is a game of incredible skill. The ability for a pitcher to bend a ball just right to fool a hitter into swinging and missing it or hitting it so poorly that he’s easy to get out. The ability of a hitter to actually hit that pitch into a gap or over the wall.
It really is incredible to watch baseball at the highest level.
But then there’s the luck aspect. A ball bounces off the wall, hits you because you misplayed it and are totally out of position, then bounces over the fence. The Red Sox got really lucky in the top of the thirteenth inning last night.
The Rays had a runner at first, two outs, and were desperately trying to score. The winner of this game takes a commanding 2-to-1 lead, needing just one more win to advance. Kevin Kiermaier hits a ball that drops a few feet from the centerfield wall, bounced up off that wall, ricochets back, hits Red Sox centerfielder Hunter Renfroe in the thigh, then bounced over the short wall as Renfroe desperately tried to fish the ball out from behind the fence.
It looked like a sure run for the Rays, maybe even a triple for Kiermaier. But Rule 5.06(b)(4)(H) says, “If a fair ball not in flight is deflected by a fielder and goes out of play, the award is two bases from the time of the pitch.”
Once that ball hit the wall, it was no longer in flight. And the Rays no longer had the go-ahead run with another runner standing at second. Instead, they had second and third. And the batter struck out. Then the Red Sox decided to just end the thing with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.
It was a play the announcers admitted they had never seen before. But it was there in the rule book.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
The Red Sox win a thriller 6-4, combined that with the White Sox 12-6 crushing of the Astros, and we had another four-playoff-game day.