Tigers 3, Red Sox 2
BOSTON (AP)—Placido Polanco’s injury forced Ivan Rodriguez to play an unfamiliar position and left the Detroit Tigers wondering how the loss of their steady second baseman will affect their playoff run.
“It’s very sad, because we are all feeling so good right now,” Polanco said Tuesday night after separating his shoulder, then watching Craig Monroe break a ninth-inning tie with a popup single that gave Detroit a 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Polanco made a diving catch in the seventh to save a potential tying run, but needed to be walked off the field with a trainer supporting his left arm. Manager Jim Leyland said Polanco will go on the disabled list but didn’t know when he will return.
Rodriguez said on the Tigers postgame broadcast that Polanco was out for the year.
“You don’t replace a guy like Polanco,” Leyland said. “This is one of those things that has to be digested. I’ll talk to the club about it, but we won’t make excuses. We’ve been fortunate with injuries this year, but they’re part of baseball.”
Because Brandon Inge had already been used as a defensive replacement, Rodriguez had to move from catcher to second base, with Vance Wilson taking over behind the plate. Rodriguez had never played second base in 2,256 previous major and minor league games.
“I knew right away,” Rodriguez said, adding that he played second in Little League and third before turning pro. “I’ve taken ground balls throughout the season, so if the team needs me, I’m ready.”
Detroit led 2-1 with two out in the seventh and a runner on second when Doug Mirabelli lofted a flare to short center. Polanco went back and dove for it, catching the ball and trying to break his fall with both arms.
His teammates motioned frantically for the training staff, and Leyland ran out to the field with them. Vance Wilson pinch hit for him to start the eighth, and Rodriguez took over in the field.
“I would rather have him drop the ball so he didn’t get hurt,” Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman said. “He will be missed a lot. He’s a big part of the club.”
Detroit squandered a 2-1 lead when David Ortiz tied it in the eighth with his major league-leading 111th RBI—his first in six games. But Mike Timlin (5-2) walked Carlos Guillen leading off the ninth, then Sean Casey moved him to third with his third hit of the game.
Monroe popped the ball up down the right-field line, but Wily Mo Pena let it glance off his glove as he approached the wall, and first base umpire Bruce Froemming signaled fair. Pena picked the ball up and caught Monroe off first base, but it was too late to keep the Tigers from winning their second in a row after coming to Boston with a five-game losing streak.
The play was scored a single and a 9-3 putout. Even if Pena had caught it, Guillen could well have scored on a sacrifice fly.
“The ball just hit my glove and fell down,” Pena said. “My mind was on catching the ball and then thinking about throwing to home plate.”
Fernando Rodney (6-3) retired Manny Ramirez—his only batter—on a groundout to end the eighth. Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 36 tries, dropping the Red Sox three games behind first-place New York in the AL East.
Timlin went two innings, giving up one run, two hits and a walk.
Bonderman pitched 7 2-3 innings of five-hit ball, and Casey hit a two-run double in the seventh inning for Detroit, which struggled to break through against Curt Schilling. The Red Sox ace gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings, striking out four—an improvement over his previous outing, when he allowed an AL record-tying 10 extra-base hits to last-place Kansas City.
Ramirez failed to reach base for the first time in 34 games. … Bonderman had been 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA in his three other starts at Fenway Park. It was the 14th time this year he has allowed two runs or fewer. … Froemming is scheduled to be behind the plate for the 5,000th game of his major league career at Fenway Park on Wednesday.