The Boston Red Sox were one trip away from improbably extending Game 3 of the World Series on Oct. 26. But after the Red Sox were outplayed by the St. Louis Cardinals for much of Game 3, Allen Craig’s trip over third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning ended it all on an obstruction call. Now after its 5-4 loss, Boston can make that call loom larger by collapsing the rest of the way, or negate it by bouncing back in Game 4.
The Red Sox already overcame much in Game 3, starting with Jake Peavy giving up four first inning hits and two runs. He then overcame a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the fourth without giving up another run, before the Red Sox scored a run each in the fifth and sixth. Then when Matt Holliday gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead with a two-run seventh inning triple and nobody out, Junichi Tazawa kept Holliday at third before the Red Sox tied it again in the eighth.
When the ninth came about, pinch hitter Craig drove in a double to put Yadier Molina at third with one out. John Jay then grounded a ball that Dustin Pedroia used to throw Molina out, yet catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw to third went wide -- and caused Middlebrooks to dive in front of Craig.
This made Craig trip over Middlebrooks on his way to home, which led to him getting called out -- until third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled that he was obstructed first. The call made Craig the winning run automatically instead of the final out of the ninth, giving the Cardinals a win at last.
The Red Sox needed the win because of Clay Buchholz’s uncertain ability to pitch Game 4. With this call over its head as well, Boston can easily crumble into a 3-1 deficit and perhaps never get out of St. Louis alive. The only hope is for the Red Sox to be as resilient as they were in the first eight innings of Game 3 -- but this situation, much like the ninth inning as a whole, is unprecedented.
If the Red Sox don’t rally, Joyce’s judgment will be the turning point of the World Series, even more than the reversed early call in Game 1 against the Cardinals. Boston will still fight to get even starting at 8:15 p.m. est on FOX.