Sunday, June 27, 2010
The Closer: Baserunning fundamentals
By Doug Kern
ESPN Stats & Information
You often hear talk about "five-tool players" in baseball. We had plenty of hitting for average on Sunday (Jose Guillen and Josh Hamilton both extended their hit streaks to 21 games). We had some power-- more than 70 extra-base hits and two dozen home runs (including the longest one by distance this season). Fielding and throwing didn't give us too many issues.
Baserunning, on the other hand...
No matter which game you watched, there was bound to be at least one of those "head-scratcher" plays. The ones where you look at your TV and say, "what was he thinking?" At the risk of Monday-morning, er, Sunday-night quarterbacking, we present a sampling of the unnecessary, and sometimes obscure, outs that were run into on the basepaths Sunday.
Tampa: Justin Upton on third. Chris Young grounds back to the pitcher. Upton gets run back and tagged out. Young thinks the defense isn't paying attention and tries to take second, where he's also tagged out.
Tampa: Pinch runner Carl Crawford doubled off first when Sean Rodriguez lines one to third base.
Chicago: Gordon Beckham strikes out, but his backswing gets in the way of Geovany Soto as he tries to nail a stealing Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez gets called out for the interference of his teammate.
Cincinnati: Corky Miller thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Anaheim: Jason Giambi thrown out at third trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
New York: Jeff Francoeur thrown out trying to tag and take third on a ball to shallow right.
Oakland: Jose Tabata's ground ball hits runner Pedro Alvarez between first and second. Oh, by the way, it's the final out of a one-run game.
(Bonus question: If you're keeping score, how do you write THAT down?)
Florida: Jorge Cantu is called for interference while trying to break up a double play at second base. The batter, Dan Uggla, is called out as a result.
Milwaukee: Rickie Weeks thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Baltimore: Miguel Tejada thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Baltimore: In the bottom of the eighth in a tie game, Julio Lugo legs out a double and then immediately gets himself picked off second.
(Bonus answer: Infield single for the batter. The putout is awarded to the closest fielder, in this case the first baseman.)
** The trunk with the Mets' bats in it finally arrived back at Citi Field. Six consecutive Mets batters went double, homer, homer, triple, single, single, during the fifth inning on Sunday. That's 15 total bases in a single inning. The Mets hadn't had 15 total bases in a GAME since last Tuesday.
** The aforementioned triple was off the bat of Jason Bay, marking his 1,000th career hit. The last time a player had a triple for his 1,000th career hit was almost exactly three years ago, when then-Oriole Aubrey Huff did it on June 29, 2007.
** The Pirates committed four errors and managed to lose Sunday's game to Oakland without allowing an earned run. Even for them, that's impressive. They haven't done that since June 29, 2002, when the Tigers scored on a missed catch at home plate and a passed ball to beat them 2-1.
** One afterthought on the Oakland/Pittsburgh series: On Saturday, the two teams donned "throwback" uniforms from the 1970s. (They say styles have a 30-year cycle, so watch for neon green to make a comeback soon.) But you have to forgive those two teams for wanting to "turn back the clock". During the '70s they combined for five world championships, including four straight from 1971-74. Since then, they have ONE (Oakland's in '89).
** Jamie Moyer didn't quite pitch IN the '70s, but at the rate he's going, he might well pitch INTO his 70s. Moyer became the all-time leader in home runs allowed on Sunday when Vernon Wells took him deep in the third inning.
Bonus question #2: Those 42 parks include ALL of the current 30 stadiums except two. We'll spot you Target Field because it just opened. What's the other current park where Moyer has yet to surrender a dinger? ** After being no-hit by Edwin Jackson on Friday, the Rays put together a two-hit attack against Arizona on Sunday. They did at least score a run this time. Ironically, the last team that was held to two or fewer hits twice in a series was these same Diamondbacks. That was in late May against the Giants.
** Combined with their amazing five-hit performance on Saturday, the Rays ended up with seven base hits over the entire three-game series. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the last team to finish with seven or fewer hits in a three-game series was the 1965 New York Mets. They were one-hit by the Milwaukee Braves on both September 10 and 11 before "exploding" for five hits (and a 1-0 victory!) in the series finale on the 12th.
Bonus answer #2: Busch Stadium in St Louis. Moyer surrendered three long balls in the PRIOR Busch Stadium (which closed in 2005), but has made only two visits to the current building.