ST. LOUIS — In the chaotic conclusion of Game 3, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia heard Cardinals runner Allen Craig called safe. Saltalamacchia couldn’t believe it. The catcher knew he had tagged Craig. And even behind his mask, the expression on his face must have communicated that much. So, home plate umpire Dana DeMuth offered further explanation.
“No, no, obstruction, obstruction,” shouted DeMuth.
Still, the call didn’t make sense to Saltalamacchia. He didn’t see it on the field. He didn’t see it in replays watched in the clubhouse.
“I didn’t see that happen, but I didn’t look too far into it because I was watching the ball and trying to see if [Daniel] Nava was going to be able to get him at home,” said Saltalamacchia.
“But after watching it on TV, I just don’t see how it was . . . I was real shocked to end the game like that. But at the end of the day, if it was obstruction then, yeah, you’ve got to call it. It’s part of the game. I don’t know the rule book in and out, but it didn’t look like to me that it was obstruction.”
That said, Saltalamacchia seemed to understand that the umpires were in a tough position.
“You see different things throughout the game. But a World Series game like this, you want to make sure you get that right, like they did Game 1,’’ he said, referring to an overturned call that aided the Red Sox in a three-run first inning. “They made sure they got that call right. You’ve got to forget about it and come back tomorrow.”
So, what exactly did Saltalamacchia see from his vantage point after Dustin Pedroia threw out Yadier Molina trying to score from third and Craig advanced from second to third, then third to home on the controversial play that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win at Busch Stadium and a 2-1 series lead?
“[Pedroia] made a great diving play, threw the ball to me and I was able to get Molina,” said Saltalamacchia. “I saw Craig going to third and I turned up, threw it. I saw it get away from Will [Middlebrooks]. I didn’t really see anything happen as far as the obstruction. I just know Nava was able to back it up and he made a good throw.
“When I got up here [in the clubhouse], obviously, it was on TV. From that replay, I didn’t see how it was obstruction. [Middlebrooks] is laying on the ground. Craig was actually out of the baseline, trying to jump over him. I just don’t see how it was. But that’s the way it went.”
And what was Saltalmacchia thinking as the Craig made his way toward third?
“I was expecting him to go, but at the same time you’re taught to make the tag and look up,” said Saltalamacchia. “I made the tag and looked up and saw he wasn’t even halfway there and he’s not been running great. I thought I was going to be able to get him and made the throw.”
Never mind the obstruction call, Red Sox manager John Farrell was not pleased about how final play developed.
When asked if Saltalamacchia was right to attempt to throw out Craig at third, Farrell said, “It was a bang-bang play. As it turns out, we have forced a couple of throws to third base that have proven costly. Tonight was a costly throw.”
Once again, the Red Sox are in the position of having to rebound from costly, disappointing defensive play. Craig Breslow’s bad throw to third in Game 2 aided the Cardinals’ winning rally in the seventh inning.
“It’s part of the game. Nothing is going to be handed to us,” said Saltalamacchia. “[St. Louis] is a good team. They play the game fundamentally right. They find a way to scrap and get on base and make things happen and so do we. We were tied 4-4 out there. So, it’s just the way the game goes. It can turn at any point.”
Saltalamacchia added: “I don’t think we’re going to go home angry. Obviously, we’re mad right now. But you’ve got to have that ability to walk out of the clubhouse and forget about it. You’ve got to go home. You’ve got families to go to. It’s a lesson. It’s a lesson you go through. But I think we’ll be all right.”Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.