Ryan Lavarnway ties record for passed balls, later redeems himself

Blair Johnson
August 7, 2013
Ryan Lavarnway ties record for passed balls, later redeems himself

Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway turns 26 years old Wednesday. But the way the game started Tuesday night against the Houston Astros, you could hardly forgive the Yale graduate for thinking he was in the middle of a party he wanted no part of. You see, the Sox gave Steven Wright (no, not that one — although the Academy Award-winning comedian is, coincidentally, a huge Boston sports fan) — a spot start against the Astros. Skipper John Farrell thought it would be a good opportunity for the knuckleballer to face a Houston club that is the only one in the majors with over a 1,000 strikeouts on the season. The only problem? This was also Wright's first start in a domed stadium. To say his knuckler was dancing Tuesday night would be a slight to Fred Astaire. The unfortunate recipient of all those hard-to-control pitches: one Mr. Lavarnway.

The trouble started early for the soon-to-be birthday boy. In fact, Lavarnway tied a big league record by allowing four passed balls in one inning. Ray Katt (while catching Hoyt Wilhelm in 1954) and Geno Petralli (while catching Charlie Hough in 1987) also accomplished the dubious mark. Wright felt for his battery mate. “It was moving a lot. It was hard to contain sometimes and tonight I couldn’t make that adjustment. It was hard to keep it in the strike zone,” said the 28-year old pitcher. Lavarnway chimed in, “I don’t think that’s how anyone would have drawn it up, but that’s the way it goes with knuckleballers – feast or famine.” All told, the Astros scored three runs in the first (Lavarnway could have very easily been given a fifth passed ball in the frame but the Minute Maid Park official scorer credited Wright with a wild pitch.) But this is a story of redemption. The backstop eventually capped a five-run fifth for the AL East leaders with a go-ahead, two-run double as Boston won 15-10.

Moving to golf, Tiger Woods' house is sinking. According to a report, Woods and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn noticed cracks and doors rubbing on to the ground in the 10,000-square foot spread in Jupiter Island, Fl.

Better news for another Stanford guy. Two-time Super Bowl champ John Elway will have the No. 7 he once wore for the Cardinal football team retired during the upcoming season.

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