Mookie Betts made a running catch and hurtled the bullpen fence in right-center field on Tuesday night, playing with abandon for a last-place Red Sox team headed for another loss.
It seemed to be one of the best catches of the season, a home run stolen from Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu to end the top of the sixth inning.
In the age of video replay, and in a season in which nothing has gone right for the Red Sox, it was not to be.
The ball rolled out of Betts’s glove after he tumbled over the fence and slammed into the ground. Chicago requested a review and the initial call of a catch was overturned.
Abreu had his home run, Betts came away with symptoms consistent with a concussion, and the Red Sox were left with a 9-4 loss.
“As far as a freak play, there’s been a number of them this year,” said manager John Farrell, who has to be wondering what else can happen.
The Sox have lost 11 of their last 13 games. Over the last two nights they have allowed 19 runs on 29 hits — 19 of them for extra bases — against the White Sox.
This latest skid has left Farrell with a 212-213 record in three seasons as manager of the Red Sox and there are 61 games remaining.
The concern for the moment is for Betts, who was taken out of the game and sent to Massachusetts General Hospital for a CT scan. At a very minimum, Betts would have to pass a cognitive test conducted by Major League Baseball before playing again. It is more likely he will land on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
“We have to get some further information from the tests,” Farrell said.
As the play was being reviewed, Betts walked in from the outfield, became dizzy, and sat down on the grass in front of the dugout.
“That’s him. He was going all out, playing hard,” teammate David Ortiz said. “It’s a shame that happened.”
Betts, who only started playing the outfield last season, took off running for the ball and stuck out his glove to make the catch. After two steps, he launched into the fence as he turned his body.
Betts landed flush on his back and neck and the ball rolled out of his glove.
“The ball really carried. I didn’t think it would get that far,” said bullpen coach Dana LeVangie, who was watching Justin Masterson warm up. “Mookie landed hard. The sound was a lot louder than you would have thought.”
LeVangie, Masterson, and other relievers rushed to Betts but he quickly got up and climbed back over the fence.
“An incredibly athletic play,” Farrell said.
Betts strained his lower back when he collided with the corner of the bullpen fence on June 12 and missed two games. In this case, Betts appeared to try and avoid a more direct collision by jumping up against the wall.
“Unfortunately he leaps to a point where [it] undercuts him and he somersaults over the wall,” Farrell said.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura asked for a review by the control center in New York and the call by first base umpire Adrian Johnson was changed.
“The wording we use is he has to have control of his body,” crew chief Bill Miller said. “In this case we couldn’t tell if the ball was on the ground on the other side of the fence or not, and so that’s why we went to replay.
“They determined he didn’t have control of his body when he hit the fence and the ball popped out.”
Said Farrell: “He’s got to hold on to the ball, that’s the bottom line. Once the ball came loose, it’s ruled a home run.”
Abreu was 3 for 5 with the homer and three RBIs. Melky Cabrera was 4 for 5 with two doubles, a triple, and an RBI. Geovany Soto hit a mammoth home run off Masterson in the seventh inning. He was 2 for 2 with three walks and three RBIs.
Jeff Samardzija (8-5) allowed four runs on seven hits in eight innings. The tall righthander was likely trade bait until the White Sox won six straight and crawled up the American League wild-card standings.
Wade Miley (8-9) never gave the Red Sox a chance, giving up five runs in the first inning. He was charged with seven runs on 10 hits over 5⅔ innings.
Miley walked Tyler Saladino with one out in the first inning. Abreu (single), Cabrera (double), Avisail Garcia (single), and Soto (double) followed with hits.
With two outs, Emilio Bonifacio had an RBI double.
For the Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval had a two-run homer to left-center in the second inning. It was only his eighth of the season, the first since June 28.
The Red Sox did not score again until the ninth inning when they scratched for two runs and forced the White Sox to bring Dan Jennings in to get the final three outs.
Most of the sellout crowd of 38,063 turned out to see new Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez have his number retired before the game. That part, at least, was fun.