Had Alfredo Aceves simply recorded a clean ninth inning and ensured that Boston won by a margin of 7-2, a fair deal of controversy could have been avoided.
In the second inning of last night's game, the Red Sox should have scored zero runs. Mike Aviles struck out on a foul tip into the glove of Gerald Laird for the third out, but was given new life when the ball was incorrectly ruled to have hit the ground.
Aviles would single, and the Sox would go on to score three runs in the inning. Thanks to Aceves surrendering the home run in the ninth, that ended up being the exact difference in the two teams' scores, giving some disgruntled fans the ability to claim that the umpires effectively stole the game for the Sox.
But did they really?
It's true that the second inning would have ended up scoreless, and that the teams would have ended up tied had every other inning maintained the same scoring, but it seems a pretty big stretch to assume that the scoring in the rest of the innings would have gone the same.
After all, it was Doug Fister, not the umpires, who was having trouble recording outs. A ground ball pitcher by trade, Fister was already giving up tons of well-hit fly balls. He simply wasn't pitching well, which is why after Aviles singled, he surrendered a double to Daniel Nava and a single to Dustin Pedroia to bring two more runs in.
It's always a bit of a leap to assume that everything would have gone the same but for the one event, but that's the assumption that the disgruntled fans are basing their arguments on, so you kind of have to give it to both sides. In that case, after ending the second inning, Fister would have started off the inning with Daniel Nava scoring and Dustin Pedroia on first with no outs. Not an enviable position.
While Tigers fans are right to be at least a little annoyed, since they lost the chance to see what the game would have been like without the bad call, they were still solidly outplayed by the Red Sox. Fister was bad, Doubront was good, and the difference was not as simple as one badly called foul tip.
|Final - 5.28.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||1||3||1||0||0||1||0||1||X||7||13||0|
|WP: Felix Doubront (5 - 2)
LP: Doug Fister (0 - 3)