Baserunning gaffe proves costly to Scutaro

Baserunning gaffe proves costly to Scutaro

Baserunning gaffe proves costly to Scutaro
BALTIMORE -- After splitting time at the year's outset, after being looked at as a lame duck shortstop with a top prospect nipping at his heels, Marco Scutaro quietly gave the Red Sox almost everything they needed in 2011.

He finished with a .299 average. At the plate in Boston's devastating season-ending 4-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday, he went 2-for-4 as one of just three Sox with multiple hits. In the field, his glove flip behind the second-base bag started a double play that bailed Boston out of a potentially disastrous inning.

Even on the basepaths, Scutaro had a moment of brilliance, when he elicited a balk call while dancing off third base.

But there was one other moment in the game that sealed the worst collapse in Major League history that Scutaro will be remembered for, a play that also came on the basepaths and one that took away an insurance run the Red Sox needed -- and never received.

"I heard the screaming, but I don't know if it was their crowd or our crowd, so I don't know if he made the play or not," Scutaro said. "I just got a bad read. I should have just kept going."

The "he" was Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold.

Boston led, 3-2, with one out and none on in the eighth inning when Scutaro singled to right off Pedro Strop. Six pitches later, Carl Crawford roped an opposite-field double to the left-center field gap that a diving Reimold missed.

Scutaro, though, didn't know whether the ball had been caught, and he hesitated as he approached third base. O's center fielder Adam Jones scooped up the ball on the warning track and threw a strike to relay man J.J. Hardy.

"I kind of stopped. I couldn't see the ball," Scutaro said. "I looked for the ball, and it went underneath, so I couldn't see if he caught it."

Red Sox third-base coach Tim Bogar was waving Scutaro in. Hardy, a couple yards out on the grass, threw a perfect one-hopper to catcher Matt Wieters, just to the left of the plate. Scutaro slid right into the tag and Wieters' text-book block.

Scutaro was out.

"He thought it got caught," manager Terry Francona said. "Again, at that point, it's human nature probably to stop, but there's nowhere to go but to keep going, and it was unfortunate."

Asked if he saw Bogar waving him in, Scutaro explained he first had to see what had happened with the ball before picking up his coach.

"[I've] got to look for the ball," Scutaro said. "After you do, that's when I took a look in [at Bogar]."

The Red Sox didn't score again, and the Orioles plated two in the ninth against closer Jonathan Papelbon. Within a couple minutes of the game's end, the Rays also won, finalizing Boston's season and sending Tampa Bay to the playoffs as the American League Wild Card winner.

"It's pretty sad. The whole year we fight and we fight and we come up short one game," Scutaro said. "It feels pretty bad. Thinking back to all the games we should have won earlier in the season, but, you know what? It's baseball. [You] can't do anything about it now."

Scutaro turns 36 in October, and his future with the team is unknown. The Sox have a team option they can pick up for $6 million, while Scutaro has a player option he could take for $3 million. There is a $1.5 million buyout if the Red Sox choose not to bring him back.

Scutaro said he wants to be back, but that it wasn't his decision.

"You're asking me? I just work here," Scutaro said. "Ask the big boss."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.