BOSTON -- David Ortiz may not steal many bases, but he can help teammates like Dustin Pedroia take an extra one. With the game scoreless in the first inning on Sunday, Pedroia led off first base with Ortiz at the plate. The Dodgers, as do many teams against Ortiz, employed a shift and pulled their infielders around to the right side of second base. On a 1-0 pitch, Pedroia took off for second. The throw by Dodgers catcher Russell Martin skipped by shortstop Jamey Carroll and bounced to third baseman Casey Blake, who started the play between Carroll and second baseman Blake DeWitt. With Blake on the outfield grass and nowhere near third base, Pedroia took off for third and advanced without a throw. Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda came over to cover but was too late. "You're always thinking that when David is up," Pedroia said after Boston's 2-0 win. "They always play the shift. If the opportunity presents itself, you got to get over there with less than two outs. It actually worked out perfect."
"All good baserunners know where the defense is," manager Terry Francona said. "If you are a hair late, it isn't going to work. His instincts are so good. "When he took off I actually thought he thought the ball went into center field," Francona added. "I thought he had one too many Red Bulls. It was great baserunning, and we really needed it." Pedroia later stole another base in the third and tripled to lead off the eighth. He took the joke one step further, saying he would have tried for third even if the ball hadn't gotten away at all. "I was going to go anyway," he said. "Just because. Red Bulls." As a middle infielder, Pedroia knows how surprising a runner trying for the extra base can be. "I think I did it a couple of years ago," he said. "Your first instinct, as a defender, you're not even thinking about that, so if you're able to steal a base and the throw is kind of up the line, you might as well go. It's such a tough play for them to catch it and tag you on the run, so you might as well take a chance." With such a shift on, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Kuroda needed to be at third base. "The pitcher is supposed to go over there," Torre said. "He's the only one who can. The catcher can't get there because he's throwing the ball. If it's a batted ball, he can. A stolen base, the pitcher is the closest guy." The play resembled one involving former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, who ignited the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2009 World Series against the Phillies. With Mark Teixeira, another shift-inspiring hitter, at the plate, Damon stole second and then third when he ascertained it was uncovered. Damon received two stolen bases because his play, unlike Pedroia's, did not involve an errant throw. But that play wasn't on Pedroia's mind. "I wasn't watching. I was barbecuing," he said. "I have a life. If I'm not in it, I don't watch it."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.