1. Joe West’s “blown” strike three call on Aaron Judge
Boston needs a scapegoat, and they sure got one on Sunday, Sept. 26. And again, the game-altering moment came in the top of the eighth inning.
Two Yankees errors and a poor decision by Aaron Boone to make a pitching change coughed up the lead in the bottom of the seventh. The Sox flipped a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead in a blink … and they didn’t really do anything worthwhile to earn it.
Then came to the top of the eighth. Gio Urshela walked to lead off the inning and Tyler Wade pinch ran for him. Wade went to steal second — and had it stolen! — but decided not to slide because he thought he heard the ball get fouled off .. and we’re still not sure what that means.
Great … the leadoff runner is now toast. Back to the drawing board.
One pitch later, DJ LeMahieu walked. A few pitches after that, Anthony Rizzo doubled to right-center. If Wade was on base, he would’ve scored and the game would be tied. Instead, it’s runners on second and third with one out for Aaron Judge. And with two strikes, this happened:
Judge struck out, but he tipped the ball, and from West’s perspective it appeared as if Sox catcher Christian Vazquez dropped it (when, in reality, he only fumbled the exchange to his throwing hand). A few pitches before this, Bobby Dalbec didn’t catch a Judge pop-up in foul territory, so this was his third life in the same at-bat.
On the next pitch, Judge clobbered a two-run double to dead center and the Yankees took a 4-3 lead. One pitch after that, Stanton hit ANOTHER homer to make it 6-3. And just like that, the Sox saw their 7-0 season series lead end 10-9 … even after being gifted numerous Yankee choke jobs.
Here Sox fans go, though, talking about how West “screwed” them when they had one extra-base hit all night, went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and benefitted themselves from West screwing the Yankees on a number of strike three calls. They failed to take advantage and left it up to something like this deciding their fate.
But then again, wasn’t it just the Red Sox not getting the job done and the Yankees capitalizing? The Sox had the lead and all the momentum after Boone’s flop and the two errors that gave them the lead in the first place. They also had a chance to retire Judge a third time with a well-placed sweeping slider. Didn’t happen.
West’s call has given them an excuse to mask their poor play. But they’ll still mention it for years. Oh well, as long as it intensifies the rivalry, we’re fine with it.