BOSTON — You’ve had them. I’ve had them. We’ve all had them.
On Saturday, it was Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart’s turn to have “one of those days.”
Swihart was charged with four passed balls while catching knuckleballer Steven Wright in the Red Sox’s 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. The struggles behind the plate prevented the battery from establishing any sort of rhythm. The Tigers scored two unearned runs with Wright in the game.
“He did a great job (Saturday) throwing the ball,” Swihart said after the game, shouldering much of the blame for Wright’s lackluster outing. “My job as a catcher is to knock it down any way I can and I didn’t do a good job of that.”
The Tigers made hard contact on several occasions against Wright, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings. Yoenis Cespedes launched a rocket home run in the first inning, Nick Castellanos smoked a ground-rule double to right-center field in the fourth inning and Jose Iglesias opened the fifth inning with a double to left field. But Swihart’s defensive issues only compounded the overall problem.
The rookie backstop committed two passed balls in one at-bat in the second inning, the second of which allowed Alex Avila to reach base on a swinging third strike and enabled J.D. Martinez to advance to third base. James McCann made it 2-0 with a run-scoring forceout moments later.
A passed ball in the fourth inning allowed both Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez to advance a station, setting the stage for Castellanos’ two-run double that bounced in the triangle and over the fence.
“I know I’m not going to catch all of them,” a realistic Swihart said after the game of Wright’s knuckleball. “At some point in the game, I’m going to have a passed ball or a drop — I know I’m going to have a few drops. My job is to just to try to keep it in front of me any way I can.”
Swihart has plenty of experience working with Wright — both in the majors and at Triple-A Pawtucket — so Saturday’s problems were somewhat surprising. The 23-year-old can’t remember ever having so much trouble catching Wright’s knuckler, adding to the fluky nature of the situation.
“There’s been times I’ve missed a lot, but they’ve never gone back to the backstop,” Swihart said. “I might drop them and they’ll go off to the right a little bit right in front of me. I mean, I’ve gotten hit in the mask twice not even getting the glove on the ball, just when he’s throwing it.
“That’s what comes with the knuckleball. Next time, I’ll do a better job with it.”
Swihart might have visions of catching — or trying to catch — a knuckleball in his sleep after Saturday’s game, but it’s important to note this seems like an exception rather than the norm. Better days lie ahead.
“It was just one of those days, I guess,” Swihart said. “I’ve done a pretty good job, I thought, beforehand in his last starts. This one just got me.”
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP