When your team wins 10-4, there are likely many big plays you can point to as a big reason for the rout.
For the Red Sox on Friday night against Milwaukee, there was just one.
Dustin Pedroia made what is arguably the best defensive play of the year for Boston to help them escape an early jam. Instantly, a game that featured 14 runs on 22 hits was altered with some leather.
The Red Sox entered the top of the third with a 4-2 lead. Starter John Lackey gave up four straight singles to start the frame, allowing the Brewers to get within 4-3 and set their sights on a big rally. The bases were loaded, there were no outs and Lackey grooved one over the plate to Milwaukee third baseman Casey McGehee, who smacked a hard shot to Pedroia’s left.
The liner bounced once before a lunging Pedroia snagged it with his body parallel to the ground and his arm fully outstretched and practically behind him. In a heartbeat, he got to one knee, turned and fired a strike to second base to begin a mammoth 4-6-3 double play. The tying run came in on the play, but the damage was kept to a minimum and momentum shifted.
Lackey, who then retired the next 15 hitters in order, was overwhelmingly appreciative.
"He's the best. The guy can play the game,” Lackey said of Pedroia. "He's fun to have behind you for sure. The double-play ball that got me out of the third inning, that definitely helped move some things in the right direction."
With Lackey in a groove, the Red Sox offense took over. There were plenty of highlights on that front, but not enough to take away from Pedroia’s play.
"That was the biggest play of the game,” said manager Terry Francona. "That’s the way Pedey plays. I don’t think anybody else makes those plays."
Pedroia made another one of those plays the very next inning, ranging to the shortstop side of second base to backhand a grounder and fire across his body to nip catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The second baseman had six assists overall.
Several had a star next to them, but none brighter than the third-inning DP.
"He's been doing it all year," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. "He gets to a lot of balls, gets great jumps and makes a lot of great diving plays. That was one of the best this year."
Lackey's batterymate, Jason Varitek, thought that the right-hander was throwing well from the start, but not necessarily catching the breaks. After the Pedroia play, everything came a bit easier.
"It was huge. [The inning] starts off with an infield hit and [Nyjer] Morgan does a nice job of laying the ball the other way, a good piece of hitting, and we’re in trouble right there," Varitek said. "It was a big play. John’s had some things not go in his favor. … You need those things throughout the season."
Lackey admitted it was not his best pitch of the night, and McGehee smoked it. He was happy it was hit to the right guy.
"I didn’t throw that good of a pitch for sure, but anytime it goes Pedey’s way, you've got a chance," Lackey said. "That guy’s pretty good."
On Friday night, at least with the glove, he was so much more than that.
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