ST. LOUIS — When Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks was called for the game-ending obstruction violation Saturday night, there was one particularly disappointed observer in Buffalo.
Middlebrooks’ sister, Lacey, is a first-year assistant softball coach at the University at Buffalo under new head coach Trena Peel. And the 23-year-old is a former softball star herself at Tulsa.
Reached by phone Sunday, Lacey Middlebrooks said she was as initially as confused as anyone else watching on TV about what had happened.
“When the plate umpire gave the safe sign when the runner was clearly out, I could sense there was a problem,” she said. “I didn’t know exactly what right away but I never once thought it would be obstruction at all.
“They might have forced a throw there a little. It was pretty crazy. I did not expect to see it end that way.”
Middlebrooks’ parents are at the games here. Tom Middlebrooks is a high school football coach in their hometown of Texarkana, Ark., which is also the hometown of Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha.
Lacey Middlebrooks said she exchanged quick keep-your-head-up texts with her brother Sunday morning and also tweeted, “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.”
“You can’t let things take control of it all. You can’t control that. Umpires are out of the players’ hands,” she said. “He understands that. He’ll drop it.”
Lacey Middlebrooks ended a checkered career in June at Tulsa, finishing in the school’s top 10 in career wins, saves, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. She went 14-3 with a 1.76 earned run average and batted .292 last season after a 20-6, 2.15 junior season that saw her named Conference USA Co-Pitcher of the Year.
She is relishing having her brother on the game’s biggest stage.
“The whole thing is so surreal,” she said. “You knew they had the ability but it was totally unexpected after last year.”
Will Middlebrooks, of course, is largely credited for the “Boston Strong” slogan that has developed into a rallying cry for the city in the wake of the Marathon bombings in April. He tweeted a picture of the saying written on his cleats the next day in Cleveland and it became a cultural phenomenon.
“When he tweeted it he would have no idea it would grow to be on everything in Boston,” she said. “There’s such a significant amount of emotion that goes behind it. … To me that was a big part of the team.”
Lacey Middlebrooks is not at the World Series as her UB workout and recruiting duties are keeping her in Buffalo.
In May 2012, the Middlebrooks siblings were the subject of an ESPN.com story about their simultaneous home runs. Will belted a grand slam in Fenway Park against Baltimore in his third big-league game at 3:18 on a Sunday afternoon. At 3:17, Lacey cracked a three-run shot to break up a scoreless tie against Alabama-Birmingham.
“Growing up and playing ball and him being somewhere else is something we’ve grown to be OK with, watching on TV and following online,” she said. “We each know we’re still there for each other.”
“I’m so proud of her. She’s really impressed me with the person she’s turned into,” Will Middlebrooks said last week. “So much of that goes back to our parents. I think she’ll be a great coach. She has a great passion for sports and is so competitive. It wasn’t in her plans to coach but the opportunity in Buffalo came out of nowhere and why not?”
Lacey Middlebrooks was a public relations/marketing intern last summer for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Will’s former Triple-A team, and made the decision to go into coaching with the help of her brother.
“We lived together this summer in South Boston and he went through the process with me,” she said. “Is this something I want to do? Do I want to turn this down? He was there every step of the way. We even talked about the Bisons because he played there. It’s really bizarre how it turned out.”
About an hour before the game, the Red Sox scratched outfielder Shane Victorino due to back stiffness. Jonny Gomes was put back in the lineup in left field and Daniel Nava moved from left field to right.
Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt were named winners of the Hank Aaron Award for best offensive performers in their league. Cabrera was on hand for the presentation with Aaron.
The awards are voted on by a combination of fans and a panel of former Hall of Famers.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina entered Sunday’s game with a career World Series average of .357, currently tied with Reggie Jackson for 11th place all-time. … St. Louis has had a 2-1 lead in the World Series on 10 previous occasions and won eight of them. … The teams combined to use 12 pitches Saturday night, tying a Series record for a nine-inning game set in 2007 (Boston-Colorado) and equaled in 2010 (San Francisco-Texas).