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So why were the Red Sox holding Kolten Wong on at first base (ha ha)?

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Shannon's question was a fair one.

His timing was awful. The laugh was unnecessary.

But the question was fair.

Why were the Red Sox holding Kolten Wong on first base in the ninth inning of Game 4?

Many teams wouldn't have, in the same situation (up by two, runner on first, two out in the ninth). The Red Sox coaching staff discussed whether to do it, before telling first baseman Mike Napoli to play on the bag.

Shannon, the former Cardinal and longtime Cardinals announcer, was stunned to see it -- right up until the time, a few seconds later, when Koji Uehara's throw to first caught Wong and ended the game.

"The first baseman Napoli holds against the runner," Shannon said, in his call on Cardinals radio. "Why, I do not know. [chuckles] Why would they be holding you? That's silly . . . There's a throw over, and he's picked off."

You can listen to the calls here (second half):

On the Fox telecast, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver asked much the same question, with McCarver saying, "You could drive Mack trucks through that right side . . . No reason to hold him on here. You've got a two-run lead, not one."

So why were they holding him?

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo said Monday that there were several reasons.

First, manager John Farrell doesn't like to giving the runner second base, and taking the force out of play. Second, even if they didn't have Napoli right on the bag, they would have had him playing right on the first-base line, playing no-doubles.

Third, because the Red Sox play a shift against Carlos Beltran, they felt that they had all the lanes covered pretty well on the right side of the infield.

So they decided to have Napoli hold Wong at first. And Uehara threw to first.

The game ended. Shannon -- and everyone else in the ballpark -- was stunned.

But his question was fair.

 
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