Play at the plate backfires; Lamont: 'Nobody wants to talk to you, unless you (screw) up.'
When you’re not scoring runs, there’s a tendency to become more aggressive, to force the other team to make plays.
When the Detroit Tigers tried to do just that, it backfired.
Prince Fielder was thrown out on a bang-bang play at home plate in the second inning of Game 2 of the World Series, trying to score from first base on a Delmon Young double.
It ended up being the only time that the Tigers had a runner at second or beyond, as Madison Bumgarner and two San Francisco Giants relievers held them to two hits in a 2-0 win, the second time in 11 postseason games the Tigers have been shut out.
Of the Tigers’ four baserunners in the game, three were erased on the basepaths.
“Well, if I had it to do over, I probably would’ve held him. I just know we haven’t been scoring runs, and I got overly aggressive, I guess,” said Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont. “With nobody out, I just saw the ball bounce away from the left fielder (Gregor Blanco). Wasn’t where he was at. I thought Prince could score, and he made a perfect relay, and I was wrong.
“Difficulty is, nobody wants to talk to you, unless you (screw) up.”
In reality, though, it was only the wrong call because of the result.
And that was a product of a perfect defensive play by the Giants.
Young laced a double just inside the third-base bag, one that curved toward the Giants’ bullpen, and away from Blanco. All of a sudden, though, it hit the wall in front of the seating behind the bullpen, and bounced in the opposite direction than Blanco was running. It looked like it might take him a few seconds to re-direct and pick it up.
“Well, it hit off the wall, so I thought he would score, to be honest, the way it carried off the wall. It took two perfect throws to get him,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “He was out, and good quick tag by Buster (Posey), like I said. It took a perfect relay to get it done.”
Problem was, it wasn’t a perfect relay, as Blanco overshot the cutoff man, shortstop Brandon Crawford, but his throw was snared by second baseman Marco Scutaro, who was backing up the play. Scutaro fired a dart to Posey, who’d set up inside the base-line, then laid a perfect sweep tag, nailing Fielder on the hip before he slid into the plate.
The fact that Posey, who missed most of last season after being injured in a collision at the plate, has been instructed not to block the plate as aggressively since then, may have been the key.
Fielder could’ve trucked him, had he tried. Even at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Posey probably doesn’t win that impact with the 275-pound Fielder.
“He gave me the plate, so whenever that happens, you’ve gotta make a slide,” Fielder said, admitting that he’d not yet seen the replay at the time. “Yeah, I thought I was safe. I didn’t feel the tag. I thought I was able to get in there but, unfortunately, I wasn’t.”
That was enough for his manager to argue, too.
“I did go out. I thought with my naked eye, I thought he was out, but when Prince reacted, I thought, well, maybe he might have missed him,” Jim Leyland said. “But the umpire made a great call. He made an absolute terrific call in a big situation, a tough situation, a tough call, and he made a great call.”
The replay did show pretty convincingly that Fielder had been tagged out.
“You know what? It was a helluva call. God, Prince looked safe by a mile from our vantage point. We looked at the replay, and he was out by a foot,” said Justin Verlander, crediting home plate umpire Dan Iassogna. “I don’t know how he saw it, but he did. Heckuva call.”
That wasn’t the only call the Tigers appreciated.
“Helluva play. I know why Geno sent him. The ball kind of ricocheted, and looked like he was going to fumble around. And he picked up clean, and good catch-and-throw to home. Can’t fault Geno for sending him, and you can’t fault — those guys made a helluva of a play. You gotta put pressure on the other team,” Verlander said.
“Who knows what happens after that, if he’s safe at home, and you’ve got a man on second, nobody out? Could’ve been a big inning.”
Email Matthew B. Mowery at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery. Text keyword “Tigers” to 22700 to get updates sent to your phone. Msg & data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.
(NOTE: Lamont quotes courtesy of WXYT-FM's Jeff Riger)