Baseball is a team sport — you win as a group, you lose as a group.
Good luck telling that to Ian Kinsler, though.
The Boston Red Sox second baseman had a chance to seal a win Saturday morning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series. With two outs, a runner on second and Boston leading 2-1 in the 13th inning at Dodger Stadium, Kinsler fielded a sharp ground ball off the bat of Yasiel Puig. The veteran infielder appeared to slip as he fielded the grounder, and eventually sailed a throw wide of first base, allowing the Dodgers to tie the game. Los Angeles went on to win in 18 winnings, narrowing Boston’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
Kinsler’s play wasn’t easy, to be fair. But given 10 opportunities, the Gold Glover probably gets the out nine times or, at the very least, doesn’t throw the ball away.
Alas, Kinsler’s miscue was the biggest play of a legendary Fall Classic battle, and not for the right reasons. After the game, the 36-year-old, who still is searching for his first World Series ring, talked about the costly error.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win. I feel terrible,” Kinsler said, via WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I feel terrible for (relief pitcher) Nate (Eovaldi, who was forced to throw five more innings after the miscue). I feel like I let the team down right there and next opportunity try to seize it.
” … I lost my footing a little bit right there. I was trying to keep the ball in with a guy on second base, try not to let that ball go up the middle. I over-ran it a little bit and then when I planted to turn to throw, the turf kind of gave way in the act of throwing and just sailed it wide. I just had the last out in my glove and couldn’t get it over there. It was tough to swallow.”
Red Sox players understandably came to Kinsler’s defense after the game. Eovaldi, who took the loss after throwing six heroic relief innings, knows no single player is responsible for any loss, let alone an 18-inning one.
“He owned up to it. He apologized to me and I told him he had nothing to apologize for,” Eovaldi said, via Bradford. “We’re a team, I know you got my back and I’ve got his and it’s a team effort, it’s not just one guy.”
Despite his teammate’s best efforts, Kinsler remained dejected in the clubhouse.
This is a nightmare scenario for a player. The reality is there are many reasons Boston lost Game 3, with failures at the top of the lineup being chief among them: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez went a combined 0-for-23. As a team, the Red Sox left nine men on base.
Boston fans, however, will remember Game 3 as a missed opportunity, a win that an off-balance Kinsler threw up the first base line. Is that fair? No, but that’s the narrative that will stick — and Kinsler knows it.
The beauty of baseball, though, is that Kinsler can help change that narrative Saturday night in Los Angeles. If the Red Sox pick up a win in Game 4 and take a 3-1 lead in the World Series, his Game 3 miscue will move from infamy to the rearview.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images