By Steve Kallas
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THE LUCKIEST MAN IN ST. LOUIS
Jose Oquendo is the St. Louis Cardinals’ third-base coach. It’s the bottom of the fourth, the Cards are up 2-0 and Yadier Molina is on second with nobody out. Jon Jay hits a slow single up the middle and Molina busts it around third before being held up by Oquendo.
Jacoby Ellsbury concedes the run, lobbing the ball to the shortstop. But Molina doesn’t score. In fact, Oquendo comes so close to touching Molina that Red Sox manager John Farrell comes out to ask the umpire if Molina could be called out. Oquendo doesn’t touch Molina so there is no call.
Generally, with nobody out and the bases loaded, you are inclined not to send the runner. In fact, Tim McCarver told us that “the reason” Oquendo did not send Molina was because there was nobody out.
But that is certainly not an absolute. Especially where, as here, you clearly had a slow single to center and Ellsbury didn’t even think about throwing home.
I spoke with Dan Gray, a brilliant baseball mind who played in the Dodgers’ organization for five years and now manages an excellent travel team at Pro Swing out of Mt Kisco, New York.
“On that play, you generally wouldn’t send the runner,” Gray said. “But when it’s a slow single up the middle, (and) you have No. 8, No. 9 and No. 1 coming up in a National League ballpark, well, it would have been the right move to send Molina, who would have made it easily.”
Jake Peavy pitched out of the jam.
Fortunately for Oquendo, the Cardinals won, 5-4.
BAD GAME FOR JOHN FARRELL
Farrell’s biggest mistake was not appealing the final play of the game — Allen Craig never touched home — or, at a minimum, protesting the game. Apparently nobody on the Red Sox side saw that Craig missed home. A play for the ages. And how Farrell didn’t walk Jon Jay just prior to the crazy ending with first base open and poor-hitting Pete Kozma up next was a total mystery.
Having said that, it would have been nice to see Will Middlebrooks, just in the game, protecting the line at third in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second. Matt Holliday hits a rocket to third that Middlebrooks can’t stop. If he’s guarding the line, it’s a double play, maybe a triple play. But for some reason, managers don’t do this as much as they used to
Throughout the day, and even before, everybody discussed what a weapon Farrell would have on the bench with Mike Napoli, since Big Papi was going to play first base. Yet when Brandon Workman, in the top of the NINTH, came to the plate, Farrell let him hit. Where was Napoli? On the bench in a tie game on the road.
A gigantic mistake made worse when Workman pitched to only two batters in the ninth. While Farrell admitted after the game that he made a mistake by not double-switching when he brought Workman in in the eighth inning, he still could have given Napoli a shot to win it in the ninth.
When you lose the game and your best weapon off the bench is still on the bench, well, that’s a disaster.
BAD GAME FOR McCARVER AND BUCK
Yeah, it’s been a tough postseason for this duo. After never mentioning the huge mistake that Victor Martinez made in that Dustin Pedroia-started magical double play against Detroit — they put all of the blame on Prince Fielder) — it got worse in Game 3 of the World Series.
While McCarver told us that Oquendo held up Molina because there was nobody out, the play called for a much deeper analysis, especially when Ellsbury lobbed the ball in.
There was a bizarre exchange between the two in the top of the ninth, when Buck said, “You couldn’t even begin to recap all that has happened.” That was met by McCarver saying, “I wouldn’t want to, so I’m not going to,” and “No, I’m not analyzing.”
OK, maybe that was a joke.
But when Workman came to bat in the top of the ninth — for his first major league at-bat — with Napoli on the bench, no mention was made of this non-change. In fact, McCarver and Buck actually joked about Workman’s chances — “slim” and “slimmer.” Maybe trying to help them out, the director, or whoever the person is who puts up the cuts on TV, actually showed a picture of Napoli in the dugout.
To no avail, as neither broadcaster got the hint. It wasn’t until after the next commercial break, when they must have been verbally told of the non-Napoli at-bat, that it was even mentioned.
On the final wacky play, when breaking it down, McCarver told us that Jarrod Saltalamacchia made “a great play,” presumably by tagging Craig at the plate. While it was a good play, Daniel Nava made one of the greatest backup plays in the history of baseball. Nava’s name was never mentioned in terms of what he had done.
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