BOSTON — When it comes to the subject of advanced instant replay, Joe Maddon makes himself perfectly clear — even though it would have hurt him Monday night.
“I’m a total advocate of instant replay. Absolutely,” the Tampa Bay manager said after a blown call at home plate helped his team wrap up a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox. The win moving the Rays back into first place in the American League East.
The way it stands, only home runs are subject to replay. That is likely to change and sooner rather than later.
“There’s a perfect example where it could have played a difference in tonight’s game,” Maddon said. “I’m not going to disagree with that. Absolutely, but as it stands right now we’ve had our share of malapropos this year, also, and the other teams are going to get the same thing. Until that changes, we have to wear it.”
Rays left fielder Sam Fuld threw pinch runner Daniel Nava out at the plate with what would have been the tying run in the eighth inning, but umpire Jerry Meals called Nava out. Replays showed Nava was safe.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected for arguing.
The Red Sox did have two men in scoring position with two out in the ninth, but Fernando Rodney (26th save) struck out Mike Napoli to end the game.
Fuld, a defensive replacement who had played Ryan Lavarnway’s wall single into a double with one out in the eighth, made a strong throw. He said he was helped by the wet grass from a downpour before the start of the inning.
He saw the replay and said, “I thought he was safe.”
Meals agreed, telling a pool reporter, “What I saw was Molina block the plate and Nava’s foot lifted. But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava’s foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina’s shin guard.”
Said Farrell: “It was a missed call. Terrible call. Clearly, the angle of Jerry Meals behind the plate when the throw came in, he did not see the view — Daniel Nava clearly was safe. It’s unfortunate. We should still be playing right now.”
When the dust settled, David Price had beaten Boston for the second time in six days and the Rays, winners of 25 of 31, had finished off an 8-2 road trip and re-taken a half-game lead over Boston.
Maddon predicted a playoff-type atmosphere and that’s what he got in this makeup of last Thursday’s rainout. Price said, “It felt like a playoff game.”
The 2012 AL Cy Young winner, who pitched a five-hitter in beating the Sox Wednesday, had a two-hitter through seven Monday — one of the hits a 302-foot opposite-field homer by Brandon Snyder off the Pesky Pole in right.
As Price, 5-1 with a 1.68 ERA since coming off the disabled list, warmed up for the eighth, heavy rains came, delaying the game for 39 minutes. He told his manager he was fine and went back out. Maddon was uneasy and when he saw Price go 3-0 on Jonny Gomes, Maddon knew he’d made the wrong decision.
Price (6-5) struck out Gomes but was done — and wasn’t happy about it. Maddon said the well-being of his pitcher was the main consideration.
Prior to the blown call at the plate, Nava’s misread of Stephen Drew’s long double off Peralta saw him get only as far as third with one out. Snyder then hit a short fly to left-center. Fuld made the catch and then flipped over as he fired home.
In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury singled and, with one out, stole second. After Dustin Pedroia (3-for-39 since the All-Star break) grounded out, Maddon, who has seen David Ortiz crush him too many teams, put the winning run on via intentional walk. The move paid off.
Felix Doubront (7-5) lasted five innings and lost to Price for the second straight time — Maddon calling it a “bend but not break” outing.
NOTES: Price is the first opposing starter to win two starts at Fenway in such a short span since 1931. … The Rays acquired reliever Jesse Crain, on the DL with a shoulder injury, from the White Sox for future considerations. … Ortiz won’t be suspended for his destructive dugout tirade in Baltimore Saturday night. Price’s 1.96 Fenway ERA coming in was, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the lowest by an opposition starter since Lefty Grove’s 1.66 from 1926-33. … Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman faces Seattle’s Joe Saunders Tuesday night. … RHP Roberto Hernandez opens Tampa’s five-game homestand against Arizona’s Ian Kennedy. … Two former Sox, 1B George Scott and RHP Frank Castillo, both died.