ST. LOUIS -- No team ever lost a postseason game the way the Boston Red Sox did Saturday night.
In baseball's long history, the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-4 victory in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday marked the first time an obstruction call determined the winner. Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks tripped Allen Craig as the Cardinals baserunner tried to score after Jarrod Saltalamacchia's wild throw caromed off Craig and rolled into foul territory with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
After the game, some players angrily questioned why third base umpire Jim Joyce made his call. However, Boston pitcher Jon Lester, who will start Game 5 on Monday night, said Sunday the Red Sox are over the bitter ending.
"I think some guys were probably shocked, confused, a lot of different emotions going on," Lester said, "but there's nothing we can do to change it. So we have to move forward to today and focus on today. If we let that affect us in the clubhouse today and during that game, then we've already been beat."
Boston manager John Farrell said the call was made correctly by Joyce and plate umpire Dana DeMuth, but that the walk-off punishment didn't fit what he felt was a jaywalking crime.
"When Will Middlebrooks is lying on his stomach, it's hard to say that he was intending to impede that runner's progress," Farrell said. "So the way the obstruction rule is set up right now, the baserunner can be the aggressor and beneficiary on both sides."
Meanwhile, St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright understood why the Red Sox were upset with the game's ending. Like many in the Busch Stadium-record crowd of 47,432, he wasn't sure what was happening.
"I saw Craig out by a couple of feet, and (DeMuth) called him safe, and I thought, wow, I think I've just witnessed the worst call in the history of the game at home plate," a laughing Wainwright said. "Only to find out there was obstruction. So there were four or five times I didn't know what the heck was going on."
Lost in the wacky ending was that Craig appeared to re-injure his foot as he ran home after being tripped. A Lisfranc sprain kept Craig out of action from Sept. 4 until Game 1 of the World Series. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said X-rays on Craig's foot were negative.
Craig didn't start in Game 4, but Matheny said Craig would be available for pinch-hitting duty if needed. It was not known if Craig would be able to move well enough to play first base Monday night against Lester, a left-hander.
"The defensive work is really kind of secondary to have him available to come in and do what he did last night," Matheny said of Craig, whose pinch-hit double in the ninth inning was a key play in Game 3.
NOTES: Boston scratched RF Shane Victorino about 80 minutes before Game 4 and moved LF Daniel Nava to right field, and from the fifth spot in the lineup to the second spot. Jonny Gomes was inserted into left field and batted fifth. ... Game 3 pulled in a 7.4 national rating on Fox, up 21 percent over last year's Game 3 between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers. ... St. Louis flip-flopped CF Jon Jay and 3B David Freese in its lineup, hitting Jay sixth and Freese seventh Sunday night. Daniel Descalso started at shortstop for the Cardinals and batted eighth.