Aviles, Red Sox catch a break; Tigers left growling
There have been several occasions this season when the Red Sox returned to the clubhouse after a game and groused about the umpires.
It got to a point this month in Kansas City when manager Bobby Valentine felt it necessary to go to the mound and forcefully tell Felix Doubront to stop complaining and pitch.
After Monday’s game at Fenway Park, all is forgiven.
A missed call in the second inning led directly to three Red Sox runs as they beat the Detroit Tigers, 7-4.
There were fireworks on Memorial Day at Fenway Park as Tigers manager Jim Leyland and third base coach Gene Lamont were ejected for disputing the call.
Leyland stewed in his office under the third base stands until the game was over, then unleashed a tirade that is sure to catch the attention of the commissioner’s office.
The Red Sox had a runner on second with two outs in a 1-1 game when Mike Aviles appeared to strike out facing Doug Fister. But instead of the end of the inning, plate umpire Jeff Nelson called it a foul tip that struck the dirt before landing in the glove of catcher Gerald Laird.
Replays showed that Laird caught the ball cleanly.
First base umpire Bill Welke did not overturn the call. Aviles fouled off the next pitch, then lined a single to center field, scoring Ryan Sweeney, who doubled. Daniel Nava drove in Aviles with a double. Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.
“I’m pretty sure he caught it, but I’m not sure,’’ said Aviles, trying his best to be diplomatic. “I haven’t even checked the replay but I thought it might have bounced but I don’t know.
“First thing I said was, ‘It bounced.’ I didn’t want to strike out. I don’t know anybody who wants to strike out. I honestly don‘t know 100 percent, but he might have caught it.’’
After the inning, third base umpire Tim Tschida ejected Lamont, who was a finalist to manage the Red Sox last fall. Leyland returned to the dugout, kept barking and was given the thumb by Welke.
“There shouldn’t have been a second-inning rally,’’ Leyland said, sprinkling in some profanities along the way. “I’ve been in the game a long time, when a catcher catches the ball, and it’s strike three, you call the guy out. It’s that simple, isn’t it?
“We’re all accountable in this business. Everybody in the game needs to be held accountable. I protect them more than anybody. I’m not mad at the umpires. But it’s a ridiculous call.’’
The Red Sox smiled, dressed, and went home. Over the course of 162 games, you’re going to get away with a few. The day will come when they’re on the other side.
“Do I feel fortunate? We won, so yeah. In all honesty, all the calls balance out for both teams,’’ Aviles said. “All in all, things find their ways to balance out.’’
David Ortiz had an RBI double in the first inning for the Sox and Aviles one in the eighth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a solo home run in the third.
Fister (0-3) allowed six runs on 11 hits over five innings. The Tigers are 19-25 since winning their first four games of the season, three against the Sox.
Doubront (5-2) went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The lefthander allowed solo home runs by Delmon Young in the second inning and Laird in the fifth.
The Sox are 7-3 in games Doubront has started. He and Josh Beckett have been the team’s two most reliable starters.
“Start to start, he’s doing a good job,’’ Valentine said. “He’s logging the innings.’’
Scott Atchison struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief. He has gone 17 1/3 innings without allowing a run and dropped his earned run average to 0.93.
The 36-year-old righthander, who spent most of last season with Triple A Pawtucket, has become a valuable part of the rebuilt bullpen.
“He obviously now has elevated himself where he’s a righthander I think I can count on to get righthanders and lefthanders out,’’ Valentine said.
Said Atchison: “I try not to think about what I’m doing necessarily, just going out there and keeping the same approach. It’s been a good stretch and hopefully I can keep it going.’’
Pedroia left the game after jamming his right thumb making a diving catch to end the Detroit fifth. Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington said they did not believe the injury was serious.
The other sour note came from closer Alfredo Aceves. A day after he blew a save by allowing a two-run homer, he came into a 7-2 game and gave up three hard-hit balls, including a two-run shot to left by Jhonny Peralta.
“A couple of those balls weren’t exactly what I had planned,’’ said Valentine, who believes Aceves would benefit from more frequent work.
That the final margin was three runs probably only served to enrage Leyland more.
“I can’t say for sure what happened,’’ Aviles said. “But it worked out for us.’’