Pedroia makes play of the night
Second baseman preserves no-hitter with diving stop
BOSTON -- The Orioles' Miguel Tejada called it "the best play they made the whole night."
"I thought he had no chance at it, honestly," said Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp.
Terry Francona liked the dive.
"But to continue it and to finish it," the Red Sox manager said, "was even better."
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia became the second rookie to make jaws drop on Saturday night in Boston, finishing an improbable diving flop up the middle with a spin and a hard throw in the seventh. The throw, as first-base umpire Ed Rapuano ruled, was just hard enough.
"Shocked me," said Crisp about the turn and release. "I thought he was going to [have to] flip it to Lugo."
Tejada dove late into first. Called out, he picked himself up and yelled in frustration. Pedroia slammed his glove, profanely expressing his excitement.
"You saw Miggy's reaction," Francona said. "You can see [Pedroia] dive ... knocking it down. But to actually keep his glove [and] get enough on the throw ... The whole play [was a] great play."
The way Pedroia explained it, "I was kind of playing him straight up. I kind of got a good jump on the ball, and I was able to get to it. Once I got there, I kind of popped up as fast as I could and threw it as hard as I could."
All in a day's work for Pedroia, who has made case after visible case for a 2007 Gold Glove. On one night, at least, Pedroia's range and release saved a no-hitter.
"When I jumped up and missed the ball," said no-hit author Clay Buchholz of the ball up the middle, "I was thinking, 'Well, it's over.'"
"And then," Buchholz added, "[Pedroia] comes out of nowhere."
It wasn't lost on Buchholz, the 17th pitcher to toss a no-hitter in Red Sox history, what had just occurred.
"I knew that something was meant to happen tonight," Buchholz said.
Pedroia's play stood out in a night packed with standout plays. Crisp caught a pair of Corey Patterson missiles in the gap -- the sixth-inning version coming only after he traversed the generous width of center field, left to right -- and Buchholz himself snared a ball up the middle in the eighth, with barely enough time to open his glove and react.
"For things to happen, you have to have some favor defensively," catcher Jason Varitek said.
"I just tried to concentrate, pitch by pitch," Buchholz said, "and throw each pitch just like it was the last pitch that I was going to throw."
"And then," he said, "everything took care of itself."
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.