Brandon Workman learned an important lesson Sunday.
“I learned not to throw the ball to the backstop with the winning run on third,” Workman said.
Workman came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning after Will Middlebrooks tied the game with a home run off Mariano Rivera in the top of the inning. The rookie ran into some trouble, as Ichiro Suzuki singled, stole second base and advanced to third base when Vernon Wells flied out to right field for the second out. Alfonso Soriano dug in and Workman delivered a wild pitch that sailed off Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s mitt and to the backstop, allowing Ichiro to cross the plate with the winning run.
“One got away from me,” Workman said. “I was trying to work a little bit up in the zone on him. One got away and went a little too high and got over Salty’s head. I was trying to stay up a little against him and I just kind of missed up too high.”
While Workman was charged with a wild pitch, it was a ball that Saltalamacchia typically catches. The veteran backstop even admitted such after the game.
“That late in the game, just starting to get some shadows,” Saltalamacchia said. “But I went out there and talked to him. We had a plan. Our game plan was to throw the fastball up on him. He executed exactly what I wanted. I’ve just got to basically fight to get it. I’ve got to do the best I can and try to hold onto that.”
Workman’s wild pitch spoiled a chance for the Red Sox to pull off another dramatic victory. The Sox rallied against Rivera in the ninth inning en route to a 10-inning win Thursday, overcame a five-run seventh-inning deficit Friday and put on an offensive show Saturday before dropping Sunday’s series finale. Given the totality of the series, it’d be hard for the Red Sox to get too upset about how Sunday’s game unfolded, even if a walk-off loss wasn’t how they envisioned it ending.
“I mean, we wanted to take four, but we can’t complain taking three of four from this team, because they’re a good team and they were hot,” Middlebrooks said.
It was a successful series for the Red Sox in many regards. Not only did they stop a surging Yankees team, but they also created some cushion between themselves and the Rays in the AL East before a crucial three-game showdown at Tropicana Field. The Red Sox will now head to Tampa Bay with a 7 1/2-game lead and Clay Buchholz returning to face David Price in the series opener Tuesday.
The whole “you can’t win ‘em all” thing doesn’t really translate in the cutthroat world of professional sports. But with that said, Sunday’s walk-off defeat was probably the most non-soul-crushing walk-off loss in recent memory.