Thursday, May 19

Is this little league? Serious mistakes abound in baseball this week

The art of the abstract, in recent weeks, has been less realism-with-paintings-by-Leonardo da Vinci and more-my-2-year-old-scribbling-with-melty-crayons.

It hasn’t been pretty, especially for teams that throw baseball through the infield.

The gaffe in the Pirates-Cubs game in late May was an all-time game. Even now, I still feel sorry for Pirates first baseman Will Craig, who, to his credit, faced the music and admitted his mistakes a day later. We’re not going to dwell on that today (here’s a full rundown of the “You’ve got to be kidding me” play).

No, we are going to see three different Yakety Sax Summary – two that were a disaster for the glove team, and one that wasn’t an end-of-the-year highlight for the team on the base courts. The thing is, all three happened this week!

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Two on Wednesday (Marlins-Cardinals and Orioles-Indians) and one on Thursday (Blue Jays-Yankees). Let’s go in chronological order.

June 16: Marlins at Cardinals

Startup: Low of the fourth game 0-0. One out, runner on third (Tyler O’Neill). Yadier Molina hitting.

The game …

The fall: Sandy Alcantara, the pitcher, hits a good shot off Molina’s groundout and, alert, sees O’Neill, who was running on contact, reaching home plate. He quickly passes the ball to receiver Jorge Alfaro, exactly as he should have. O’Neill slowly trotted to third, giving Molina plenty of time to get to first base safely. After a couple of slow steps, O’Neill sees third baseman Deven Marrero several steps from third base, and Alfaro has yet to get rid of the ball. You can almost see O’Neill thinking, “Well, if they’re not going to pitch it, I can do this” as he fires up the jets and runs, then dives back to third. Alfaro finally throws the ball to Marrero, but it is too late for Marrero to even attempt a bunt.

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What should have happened? Alfaro has to get rid of the ball first. And then when he waited too long, he should have thrown it at Jazz Chisholm, the shortstop who was in third position and who might have had a chance to get touched.

The repercussions: The mistake didn’t cost Alcantara a single extra pitch. Let’s say O’Neill was tagged; it would still have been a running back situation with first two outs. The next batter, Edmundo Sosa, grounded out on a double play on the next pitch. Entrance more.

June 16: Orioles at Indians

Startup: Game 3 down, 3-2 (Orioles lead). No outs, runners on second and third. José Ramírez batting.

The game …

The fall: Both running backs easily score on a Ramirez single. For some reason, he throws himself into second position when Austin Hays pitches to home plate, even though Baltimore’s first baseman Trey Mancini is in a perfect cutting position, basically facing Ramirez. Sometimes mistakes work. Mancini throws shortstop Freddie Galvis, who is standing at second base, forcing Ramirez to retreat to first. Galvis takes him back to first, then pitches second baseman Pat Valaika, who’s in the right place. Ramirez runs to second, and instead of Valaika trying to jump in and touch him, for some reason he throws the ball to Galvis, who is basically standing behind Ramirez as he receives the ball. Third baseman Maikel Franco was slow to back the play as dictated by the roster rules, so Valaike couldn’t throw the ball to him. And since Franco is now in second, there is no one in third, because receiver Pedro Severino was not there. So Ramírez ran to third.

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What should have happened? Many things. Things haven’t been going so well for the Orioles on the road lately. Valaika should have thrown in to tag Ramirez. Franco should have gotten to second base sooner. Severino should have been in third place.

The repercussions: Instead of empty bases and one out, if Ramirez had been eliminated, there was a runner at third and no out. Cleveland ended up scoring five runs in the inning; the final score was 8-7, Cleveland.

June 17: Blue Jays vs. Yankees

Startup: Top of the first game 0-0. No outs, runners on second (Bo Bichette) and third (Marcus Semien). Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., batting.

The game …

The fall: Guerrero hits a tapper to the right of pitcher Michael King and is ejected early. Because the ball was hit in the direction of third base, Semien withdrew to third base. I can’t make the first out at the plate, obviously. Bichette, however, also runs to third. “Oh, there’s a situation in third,” says Yankees announcer Michael Kay. DJ LeMahieu, the first baseman, throws behind Bichette (for whatever reason), forcing Semien to give up and run home. Semien slows down and gets caught up in a rundown, giving him more than enough time for Bichette to get to third position safely. But Bichette’s first move is to go back to the second (again, for some reason). He finally heads to third when catcher Gary Sanchez throws to third baseman Gio Urshella, who scores Semien, then spins to throw to shortstop Gleyber Torres, who is covering third base alert. Bichette slides into the third out.

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What should have happened? Bichette is a very good player, she has a very good year. This was not his best moment, kindly said. Bichette should have stayed close to second when they hit the ball, to see what Semien was going to do. He should have raced to third position by the time Semien got intentionally caught on the list. He did neither.

The repercussions: Basically, everything Bichette did on this play was wrong, and his actions led directly to a final-inning triple play, when the Blue Jays should have had runners at second and third with one out. And, fun fact: this was the first 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play in baseball history.

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