Blake Swihart allowed four passed balls in Saturday's loss. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Blake Swihart takes blame for passed balls: 'Next time I'll do a better job with it'

Ryan Hannable
July 25, 2015 - 4:27 pm
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Catching knuckleballs isn't an easy thing to do. Even some of the best catchers ever to play the game simply can't do it (i.e. Jason Varitek) and while Blake Swihart had no major issues leading into Saturday's start, things didn't go well this particular day. Swihart allowed four passed balls in 4 1/3 innings with Steven Wright on the mound, leading to two unearned runs and ultimately a 5-1 Red Sox loss to the Tigers. "It was just one of those days I guess," Swihart said. "I've done a pretty good job I thought beforehand in his last starts and this one just got me." "There's been times I've missed a lot but they've never gone back to the backstop," he added. "I might drop them and they'll go off to the right a little bit or right in front of me. I've gotten hit in the mask twice not even getting the glove on the ball when he's throwing it. That's what comes with the knuckleball. Next time I'll do a better job with it." After leading off the second inning with a walk, J.D. Martinez advanced to second base on a passed ball and was able to score on a James McCann fielder's choice for the first unearned run. Then in the fourth, with runners on first and second, Swihart allowed another passed ball, allowing the runners to move up a base. It came back to hurt when both runners scored on a Nick Castellanos ground rule double. If not for the passed ball, Martinez would have been at first and forced to stop at third. Wright said the knuckleball was moving the most it had all season. Even though that may be a good thing against hitters, it's not for his catcher. Wright went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits, while walking two and striking out four. Manager John Farrell admitted afterwards Swihart's troubles was part of the reason for taking Wright out after just 74 pitches. "I thought it was moving a lot more than it has all year," Wright said. "It's a good problem to have but it can be a problem, and today with the passed balls it's just the fact that it was moving too much it makes it hard to catch. That's part of the knuckleball. Sometimes it works good and sometimes it moves too much where it makes it tough. But today we were able to grind out and get to the fifth inning and the bullpen was able to come in and finish the game." He had nothing but encouragement for his backstop, who has caught all five of his major league starts this season and has had plenty of experience with him in Triple-A Pawtucket. "Just hang with it," Wright said of what advice he gave Swihart. "It's one of those things where that's the nature of the pitch. Sometimes it moves too much to where it makes it tough to catch. The way I always say it, if he's framing pitches that means it's probably not good for me. But when it's moving like that, when it's hard to catch it's hard to hit. But sometimes it just happens that way." Even though Swihart is only 23 years old, he takes the game very serious and was visably upset with his performance following the game. "I take a lot of pride in that," he said. "[Wright] threw great and I wasn't there to back him up as much as I should have been. He did a great job today and I need to go out next time and help him out more."

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