BOSTON — An already rough second inning Sunday turned disastrous for the Red Sox thanks to a defensive lapse by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly already had allowed two Houston Astros runs in the frame when a ground ball off the bat of Marwin Gonzalez kicked off his foot and straight to Bogaerts. It was a textbook double play ball, one that should have allowed Kelly and the Red Sox to escape the inning relatively unscathed.
However, after Bogaerts had fired to first and the Red Sox began trotting back to their dugout, Astros manager Bo Porter came out to argue that the shortstop had released the ball before his foot touched second base, meaning only one of the two outs should have counted. The so-called “neighborhood play” normally is not reviewable, but after conferring with the Major League Baseball office in New York, crew chief Jim Joyce allowed Porter to challenge the ruling.
After review, it was determined that Bogaerts had indeed let the ball go early. The inning continued, and after right fielder Robbie Grossman drew a walk to load the bases, second baseman Jose Altuve blasted a Kelly fastball over the Green Monster for a grand slam. The blast broke the game wide open, and the Astros cruised the rest of the way for an 8-1 win.
“I kind of saw (baserunner Marc Krauss) coming at me, so I tried to get rid it of pretty quick,” Bogaerts said after the game. “But I got rid of it a little too quick.”
As Altuve rounded the bases, Red Sox manager John Farrell left the dugout to question the earlier ruling, arguing that the Bogaerts play should not have been subject to review. He was promptly ejected, and he explained his rationale for the argument when speaking with reporters after the game.
“Based on the call from the field level back to New York, they determined it’s a play that can be reviewed,” Farrell said. “My initial explanation on the field was that the front end of a double play in a non-reviewable play. And my interpretation is that the neighborhood play should not be dependent upon a feed throw or not. A neighborhood play is not a reviewable play.”
The play was the beginning of another forgettable showing for Bogaerts, who went 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and a strikeout and failed to record a hit in the series. The oh-fer dropped his batting average to .228, and the slump has not been easy on the 21-year-old.
“You guys have no clue,” Bogaerts said. “Sometimes I hide it on the outside, but inside, it’s just — it’s just tough. … When Altuve hit that grand slam, I mean, it couldn’t get any worse than that. That’s probably one of the worst feelings I could have.”