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‘Neighborhood play’ helps Red Sox limit damage in Detroit’s big second inning

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Stephen Drew fields the throw wide of second base. (Fox Sports screen cap)

The Boston Red Sox sustained a lot of damage in the second inning of Wednesday's ALCS Game 4 as Jake Peavy gave up a five-spot to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Yet it might've been worse had the Red Sox not benefited from the "neighborhood play" call earlier in the inning. Check out shortstop Stephen Drew and how far he was off the bag after fielding a throw from second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Despite the distance, Austin Jackson was still called out for the second out of the inning, just before Drew unsuccessfully tried to complete a double play with a throw to first.

The neighborhood play is routinely called by umpires throughout the regular season if it's deemed that middle infielder was "close enough" for a forceout. As Fox Sports analyst Tim McCarver noted, it's an advantage that's granted to middle infielders wishing to escape an injury situation with the oncoming base runner.

[Photos: Tigers vs. Red Sox in ALCS]

But this? Well, it would seem that Drew was well out of the neighborhood play range. And we're talking about an important game here. With the Tigers trailing 2-1 in the series, every baserunner is an important one. Should close enough even count?

Here are two views of the play:

Fortunately for Detroit, Torii Hunter followed with a two-run double before scoring on a Miguel Cabrera single. A 5-0 score is a pretty nice lead, though one that's far from secure when facing a lineup like Boston's (a lesson Detroit learned in Game 2.) This game could have been 6-0 and maybe even more if not for that

[Related: How much credit does Jim Leyland deserve for Tigers' wakeup?]

So what say you? Was Drew close enough for the neighborhood play to be called? And should the neighborhood play even be called in the pressure-packed world of playoff baseball?

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Kevin Kaduk is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kevinkaduk@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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