When the Red Sox tied the game in the 10th inning Tuesday night, there was an unfamiliar runner crossing home plate: Kutter Crawford.
Fresh off a six-inning showing in Monday’s rain-soaked loss to the Angels, Crawford found himself on the basepaths in the 10th inning. The Red Sox had burned their designated hitter in the eighth when they moved Justin Turner off DH and to second base when Yu Chang was pulled for a pinch-hitter, requiring a pitcher to take over a lineup spot.
Masataka Yoshida was the final out of the ninth inning and then pulled from the game before extras so Boston could double switch. That paved the way for Crawford to become the 10th inning ghost runner.
Crawford advanced to third base on a passed ball during Kiké Hernández’s at-bat to begin the inning, then came home on Reese McGuire’s two-RBI double to tie the game. Three batters later, Alex Verdugo laced the game-winning single into right.
Sox manager Alex Cora outlined how they ended up in the bind in his weekly appearance on Gresh & Fauria.
“We were short yesterday. (Christian) Arroyo, he’s a little banged up with a tight hamstring, so we were playing with one man down,” Cora said. “The game dictated to pinch hit for a few guys, and we had to double switch a few times to make sure the hitter was hitting ninth, let’s say, for the next three innings.
“At one point because of the rule, the last out was Yoshida. We put the pitcher in the fourth spot, we put (Rob) Refsnyder in the ninth spot, because the ninth spot was coming up (fifth) in that inning, so we wanted Ref to hit and we didn’t want to put the pitcher there in that spot. So with the new rules, then you have to put whoever was hitting fourth to start running at second base the next inning.”
The decision to go with Crawford was well thought-out. They obviously didn’t want to burn any relievers in case the game went long, so that limited them to basically just starters. From there it effectively was decided through attrition.
“In between innings we were talking about it. Kutter pitched the night before, he went six innings, he’s a good athlete. So, we called to the bullpen to get ready, he was surprised. I think at one point he thought he was going to pitch, I was like, ‘No way he’s going to pitch. I’m not that irresponsible, right?’ But he got ready in the bullpen and we put him at second base. …
“I wanted to stay away obviously from (Garrett) Whitlock, hip surgery. Tanner (Houck), no, back surgery. (Corey) Kluber is pitching today, (Nick) Pivetta, he might do something crazy on the basepaths. So, we went with Kutter.”
The decision worked out fine enough, and now Crawford has a run scored to his name. A nice feather in the cap for him – in the year the league decided to stop letting pitchers hit, no less.