BOSTON -- Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava has shown a flare for the dramatic during his brief big league career, and Saturday’s Game 1 of the ALCS was no different.
The Tigers held a 1-0 lead and the pitching staff had held the Red Sox without a hit through 8 1/3 innings when Nava stepped into the batter’s box. Facing Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit, Nava forced the right-hander to throw seven pitches until he broke up the no-no with a base hit into shallow left-center field.
“I think it was a fastball,” admitted Nava. “Sometimes you just black out and react.”
With the potential tying run on first base, Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to insert speedster Quintin Berry as a pinch-runner. Berry stole second but was left stranded as Benoit retired Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts to end the game.
After Detroit’s margin of victory to take a 1-0 series lead, Nava said his lone hit meant nothing.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s the playoffs and you want that win,” Nava said. “If it was Dirt [Stephen Drew] who got the hit, no one cares. Obviously, you don’t want to get no-hit and [Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez] had his stuff working tonight. It was a challenge -- clearly. I struck out about a thousand times. Personally, it doesn’t mean anything because we lost. We’re not in the playoffs for personal reasons we’re in the playoffs to win.”
Nava is a calm hitter and under control in the box, so his teammates felt he was due to snap the no-hitter. In fact, Berry was ready to run when called upon.
“I definitely felt like we had a good opportunity to get on base with him hitting,” Berry said. “He’s going to battle. He’s been doing it all year and he’s got such a great swing, so he’s going to give us a good chance to get on base right there, so I just tried to stay ready for him.”
Bogaerts popped out to shortstop to end Boston’s comeback bid. Despite the loss, Bogaerts was happy to see Nava come through in the clutch.
“That’s what he’s done all year,” Bogaerts said. “He’s consistent hitter and that’s why his average is above .300 and he’s a great hitter all-around.”