BOSTON — The Red Sox’s best chance to take a late-game lead Thursday was spoiled when Mike Napoli was gunned down at home plate to end the seventh inning.
Third base coach Brian Butterfield made a late decision to wave in Napoli, who was running from first on a Xander Bogaerts single, and Minnesota Twins’ relay to the plate arrived with plenty of time to spare.
After the game, which Minnesota went on to win 8-4, both Butterfield and manager John Farrell explained the coach’s thought process.
“It was an aggressive decision,” Farrell said. “We’re forcing the issue there a little bit. Unfortunately, it did not work out.”
“That’s exactly what it is,” he said. “Sometimes, you try to think plays up before the pitcher even steps on the rubber. And then once the play unfolds, two outs is your aggressive out, one out is your in-between and zero outs is err on the side of caution, and then you let your eyes try to tell you what’s going on. I thought we might be able to steal one with everybody working on the sun in right-center field. It took execution by the Twins, and they did it.”
The play — one of two outs the Red Sox made on the basepaths in the seventh — proved to be a turning point in the game. Boston managed just one hit (a single) the rest of the way, and Minnesota exploded for four runs in the top of the ninth to put the game away.
Butterfield admitted the choice to send Napoli was reckless but said he doubts it will change his decision-making moving forward.
“I don’t think it will,” Butterfield said. “I’ve had discussions with John Farrell where I’ve said, ‘I think it’s in my DNA that I push the envelope too much.’ I’ve done this for a long time. I hope that I don’t ever lose my aggression, and do everything that I can to try to help us win ballgames.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images