Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The microcosm play

Detroit second baseman Omar Infante tumbles to the ground
after Alex Rios' takeout slide in the fifth inning Monday.
Infante's throw bounced past Prince Fielder at first base,
allowing two runs to score.
A major league team plays 162 games. Those 162 games are built out of thousands of plays (every American League team has had more than 5,450 plate appearances, and there are about two weeks to go in the season).

Every once in a while, one of those plays turns into a microcosm of the season. One such occurred Monday in Chicago, where the White Sox and Tigers were playing for, at least in theory, the last time in 2012.

Bases loaded for Chicago, one out in the fifth inning. Dayan Viciedo hit a two-hopper to shortstop Jhonny Peralta — a routine double play — and the Tigers didn't turn it. See the play here.

Credit Alex Rios for his takeout slide. Blame second baseman Omar Infante for turning his pivot in front of the bag, rather than behind it. Note that rotund Prince Fielder failed utterly in his task of picking the long bounce of Infante's throw.

There were a lot of pieces to the play. But the result was two runs —two runs that would not have scored had the Tigers turned the routine DP, two runs that turned the score from 4-3 Detroit to 5-4 Chicago, a score that held the rest of the way.

The second run, the one officially unearned run, was the 68th unearned run allowed by the Tigers this year. That's the most in the American League, and that's the stat that makes this play a symbol of what went wrong for the heavily favored Tigers this year.

They knew coming in that they would be a weak defensive team. They thought they could outslug their defensive problems. They were wrong.

Chicago now leads the AL Central by three games with 16 games to play. It's not impossible for the Tigers to catch them, but it's going to be mighty difficult.

1 comment:

  1. It was a bad play in all aspects:

    Peralta's throw handcuffed Infante
    Infante should have used the bag for protection
    Fielder needed to, at minimum, knock that ball down. It went right through his legs!