BOSTON - John Farrell had a stunned look on his face 10 minutes after the game ended. The Boston Red Sox manager was still trying to comprehend how his team had lost 5-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals in one of the wildest finishes in World Series history, the winning run in Game 3 being awarded in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night on an obstruction call by third base umpire Jim Joyce.
However, Farrell made some curious decisions before Joyce ruled that third baseman Will Middlebrooks had impeded Allan Craig's progress toward home plate. Middlebrooks tripped Craig after diving in an attempt to catch a wide throw by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Almost lost among the wacky ending was this: With the score 4-4 with one out and no on base in the top of the ninth inning, Farrell had rookie relief pitcher Brandon Workman bat against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, even though slugger Mike Napoli was available on the bench.
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Workman had never batted during his three professional seasons. Not surprisingly, he struck on three pitches.
Napoli, meanwhile, never got into the game despite hitting 23 home runs and driving in 92 runs during the regular season. Napoli was replaced at first base in Game 3 by designated hitter David Ortiz because the DH rule is not in effect in National League parks.
The Red Sox failed to score in the inning, then the Cardinals won it in the bottom of the ninth.
"In hindsight having Workman hit against Rosenthal is a mismatch, I recognize it, but we needed more than one inning out of Workman," Farrell said.
Farrell said if he had to do it again, he would have triple-switched Napoli into the game after Saltalamacchia grounded out to end the eighth inning. Farrell would have had David Ross replace Saltalamacchia behind the plate, Napoli replace Ortiz at first base and batted Workman in the cleanup spot of the batting order where Ortiz was hitting.
"I felt like if we get into an extended situation, which that game was looking like it was going to, we needed to hold Nap back in the event that spot came up again," Farrell said of the No. 9 hole, where Workman batted but was still eight hitters away after leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to end the ninth.
Workman had entered the game to start the bottom of the eighth after the Red Sox scored twice in the top of the inning to tie the score at 4-4. The Cardinals put two men on but Workman induced an inning-ending fly out by Matt Holliday, who had already driven in three runs.
As it turned out, Farrell didn't get a second inning out of Workman. Farrell brought on closer Koji Uehara after Yadier Molina singled with one out in the ninth.
Uehara promptly gave up a double to Craig, advancing Molina to third. The Cardinals then scored the winning run on the wild final play.
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With the infield in, Jon Jay hit a grounder to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who made a diving stop and threw home to Saltalamacchia, who tagged Molina.
Saltalamacchia then threw wide of third base while trying to get Craig. Middlebrooks raised both legs while lying on his stomach, tripping Craig and forcing the obstruction call.
Farrell said he decided to go to Uehara with one out and a runner on first rather because Workman's pitch count had reached 30. He had thrown more pitches only once since Aug. 30 as he had a 40-pitch outing against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 11.
Uehara, meanwhile, pitched two innings three times all season, none since July 31.
"I felt like we had four-to-five outs with Koji," Farrell said. "If the thought was to go for a two-inning outing for Koji, we would have pinch-hit for Workman the inning before.
"We were trying to get two innings out of Workman. Once his pitch count was getting into the 30s with the go-ahead run on base, that was the time to bring Koji in, even though this would have been five outs. We fully expected him to go back out for the 10th."
The 10th inning, though, never came.
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