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Big Papi shows infield shift doesn't always work

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ARLINGTON -- David Ortiz broke up Yu Darvish's perfect game Friday in the seventh inning, then broke up his no-hitter with two outs in the ninth. In each of those cases, the Red Sox slugger hit balls to the right side, beating a shifted infield -- and in fact, both balls might have been outs had the Rangers been playing in their normal spots.
"The shift [messed] them up," Ortiz said Friday.
In the seventh, Ortiz's fly ball dropped between second baseman Rougned Odor, playing deep on the grass, and right fielder Alex Rios. The miscommunication between Odor and Rios, who was charged with an error, likely wouldn't have happened if Odor was in his usual position.
In the ninth, Ortiz stroked a grounder between shortstop Elvis Andrus and Odor, neither of whom had a legitimate shot at making a play. Had Odor been playing at his standard spot, he might have had a chance.
"If you're playing normal, that's the end of the game," Ortiz said.
Teams have taken to shifting against left-handed pull hitters more and more in recent years, and while the strategy is generally effective, sometimes it backfires.
"We see it on our end when a hitter will hit against the grain, so to speak. It's probably because we haven't executed as well from the mound, or there's been a pronounced change in the stroke of the hitter at the plate," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "As much as you'd like to be right all the time, this is still going to be about humans executing and it's not going to be 100 percent."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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