The Red Sox started rookie Brock Holt at third base on Friday night, his third consecutive game at the position.
With Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts available at Triple A Pawtucket, Holt’s tenure at third may be a short one. The 25-year-old profiles more as a utility infielder.
“Nobody has said anything to me. I’ll go out there and play where they want me to play,” Holt said before a 7-6 loss. “I look at it as an opportunity.”
Until spring training, Holt had never played third base in his career. He came up through the Pirates as a second baseman and shortstop. After a crash course in the position, Holt started 10 games at third base for the Sox in July.
At the time, Stephen Drew was on the disabled list and the Sox had shifted Jose Iglesias to shortstop. Once Drew was activated, Holt returned to the minors.
“After they sent me back down, I didn’t play any games at third base or even take any grounders there,” Holt said. “I mostly played second.”
When Iglesias was traded Tuesday, Holt was called back up and installed at third. He doubled and scored a run on Wednesday, and on Thursday doubled in a run to start the six-run rally in the ninth inning against Seattle.
On Friday, Holt went 0 for 3 but had a sacrifice fly in the second inning against Arizona. He also struck out in the ninth inning after failing to get a bunt down.
“I feel like I can help this team,” Holt said. “I’ve learned a lot just being around the guys here.”
Holt is still learning the position defensively. On Thursday, he called off catcher Ryan Lavarnway for a popup at the plate that ended up dropping untouched. No error was charged on the foul ball, but it was a mistake born of inexperience.
“I thought the ball was going to come back my way and it obviously didn’t,” Holt said. “In the middle of the field, it’s entirely different. But it gets a little more comfortable every day.”
Holt was acquired from the Pirates in December along with Joel Hanrahan. That Pittsburgh has the best record in the National League is not entirely a surprise to him.
“There’s a lot of talent there that has been building up,” he said. “I played with a lot of their guys in the minors and it’s a good group. Their chemistry reminds me of what is going on with our team.”
Holt keeps in touch with Jeff Locke, A.J. Burnett, Tony Sanchez, and several other Pirates and admits to thinking about the idea of a Pittsburgh-Boston World Series.
“That would be sweet. That would be awesome,” Holt said. “I guess you never know. [The Red Sox] have one of the best teams in the big leagues. I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Historic rally revisited
Thursday night’s stunning 8-7 victory over the Mariners was just the fifth time in franchise history that the Sox rallied from a deficit of five or more runs in the ninth inning to win.
The last time was in 2007. The Sox, down 5-0, beat the Orioles, 6-5, on May 13 in the “Mother’s Day Miracle.’’
Thursday was the third time in history the Sox came back to win after trailing by six or more runs when entering the eighth inning.
The previous time was July 3, 1940, against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics when the game ended on back-to-back home runs by Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx.
The Sox were down, 11-6, in that game, which was played before a crowd of 2,400.
“Without a doubt it was a remarkable inning,” manager John Farrell said of Thursday’s win. “Think there was a time this morning just sitting around having a cup of coffee thinking, ‘Still can’t believe we won last night.’ ’’
There was a lot of discussion in the Red Sox clubhouse about an interpretation by the umpires in the inning.
Robby Thompson, Seattle’s acting manager, had lefthander Oliver Perez and righthander Yoervis Medina warming up. When he went to the mound to take out Tom Wilhelmsen, Thompson raised his left arm even though he intended to bring in the righthander.
The umpires have some leeway in that situation but they made Thompson bring in Perez, who gave up RBI singles to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia. Those hits accounted for three of the runs.
“To me it’s kind of a technicality in some ways,” Farrell said. “I could understand if Robby was upset. I think he had a right to be. But [umpire crew chief Gary Darling] didn’t want to go back on the decision. He held him to it. As I understand it, that pitcher’s not in the game until he walks on the mound.”
Had the umpires allowed Medina to come in the game, Farrell said he would not have argued.
“Maybe I’m a little bit lenient on the view of it. I wouldn’t have protested,” Farrell said. “Maybe that’s an oversight on my part but that’s kind of how I viewed it last night.”
The Sox promoted 23-year-old righthander Anthony Ranaudo to Pawtucket. He will start Monday at Buffalo.
Ranaudo was 8-4 with a 2.95 earned run average and a 1.094 WHIP in 19 starts for Double A Portland. Over 109⅔ innings, he allowed 80 hits and struck out 106. Ranaudo was the 39th overall pick of the 2010 draft out of LSU.
Ranaudo came back strong after making only nine starts in 2012 because of injury, pitching to a 6.69 ERA.
“Ranaudo has had a little bit of a turnaround. He’s remained healthy, first and foremost,” Farrell said.
“The velocity has climbed to the projection that made him a first-round pick.”
Lefty reliever Franklin Morales, who is on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle, is scheduled to pitch for Pawtucket on Saturday and Sunday. He will be evaluated after that. With Craig Breslow, Matt Thornton, and Drake Britton already in the bullpen, the Sox have no need for another lefthander . . . Pedroia spent some time before the game catching up with Arizona catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, his teammate at Arizona State from 2002-05. The 2002 team produced six big leaguers: Mike Esposito, Andre Ethier, Ian Kinsler, and Jeff Larish are the others . . . David Ortiz hit his first home run at Fenway since June 9 . . . Daniel Nava has been hit by a pitch 12 times, tying Minnesota’s Josh Willingham for the most in the majors . . . Arizona is 5-5 at Fenway Park.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.