In the top of the second inning, the Red Sox had scored three runs and were threatening to put a crooked number on the board. With runners on second and third with one out, right fielder Shane Victorino hit a grounder to Tigers second baseman Omar Infante.
Red Sox catcher David Ross was the runner on third and was running on contact. As soon as Infante fielded the ball, he fired a perfect strike to catcher Alex Avila. Ross came barreling into Avila, who somehow hung on to the ball following a violent collision.
Avila was shaken up, but would stay in the game until lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning. He also endured more pain during the game, taking a foul ball directly off his mask and fouling a ball off his knee during an at-bat. Ouch.
The Tigers later released a statement about Avila’s removal from the game:
Alex Avila left tonight's game with a left knee patellar tendon strain. #Tigers he is day-to-day.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 18, 2013
That could be a huge loss for the Tigers, who have relied on Avila’s stellar defense and game-calling abilities.
It wasn’t the only incident that Ross was involved in, either.
In the bottom of the first inning of a scoreless game, the Tigers had runners on first and second with two outs. They had Red Sox starter Jon Lester on the ropes.
Hot-hitting Jhonny Peralta was at the plate and laced a sharp single to left field. Jonny Gomes came up firing, and Miguel Cabrera, on second at the time, kept on running. He ran through a hold sign by third base coach Tom Brookens, who had originally waved Cabrera on.
Said Cabrera after the game, via Tigers beat writer Matthew B. Mowery on Twitter:
Miggy on being sent/not sent: "It was like the last second he stop me. I see it, but I couldn’t stop, and I keep going."— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) October 18, 2013
Miggy: "I say, it’s two outs. Every third base coach, Brookie knows on a base hit, you gotta send the runner. It doesn’t matter who runs."— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) October 18, 2013
Miggy: "Usually in that situation he sends me. He stop me late, but you know, that’s baseball. You gotta find a way to score." #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) October 18, 2013
Cabrera, obviously out by a mile, crashed into Ross on the play. Ross was none the worse for wear, but he’ll no doubt be icing up after the game and will feel just a wee bit of pain in the morning after two jarring collisions.
As for Avila, it’s been a tough year for the Tigers backstop. He spent time on the seven-day disabled list for concussion symptoms earlier in the season and has certainly had his share of perilous incidents—not to mention the wear and tear that catchers endure on a daily basis.
The Tigers now have to head to Fenway Park down 3-2 in the ALCS and possibly without the services of their starting catcher.
While David Ross had a tough day at work, Avila’s was both painful and injurious.
Doug Mead’s work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.