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October 28, 2011

World Series Prospectus

Game Six: The Crazy Train Keeps Rolling

by Jay Jaffe

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It was the best worst World Series game—or perhaps the worst best World Series game—I've ever seen. Four and a half hours, 11 innings, 42 players, 19 runs, 23 men left on base, six home runs, five errors, two final-strike comebacks, a handful of bad relief performances, some managerial howlers including a cardinal (not Cardinal) sin… and it all ended with the much-maligned Joe Buck giving a fitting nod to history by emulating one of his father's most famous calls. As David Freese's game-winning blast landed in the grass beyond the center field wall of Busch Stadium, Buck exclaimed, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" Game Six of the 2011 World Series will be remembered as a classic—a Game Six that can sit alongside those of 1975, 1986, and 1991, among maybe a couple others—as the Cardinals staved off elimination to beat the Rangers 10-9, forcing a Game Seven.

After an ominous weather forecast forced the postponement of Game Six for 24 hours, we ended up with so much baseball—good, bad, and ugly—that it will take days to digest. The Cardinals overcame leads of 1-0, 3-2, 4-3, 7-4, and 9-7, and held the lead for just one half inning all night prior to Freese’s drive. The two teams produced tie scores of 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 7-7, and 9-9. It was a mess, a gloriously sloppy bacon double cheeseburger of a mess that remained true to the chaotic excitement of the past 31 days. Team Entropy rides again.

Even with the rainout providing an extra day of rest for the pairing that had given us the best-pitched contest of the series in Game Two, neither starting pitcher was sharp. Jaime Garcia, who had twirled seven shutout innings in that one, lasted just three here, fittingly beginning the game by issuing a five-pitch walk to Ian Kinsler. Singles to Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton plated a run before he had even retired a hitter. Garcia recovered to strike out both Michael Young (three pitches, the last a high, 87-mph fastball) and Adrian Beltre (eight pitches, the last an 84-mph changeup), then got Nelson Cruz to ground into a fielder's choice on his 23rd pitch of the inning. Colby Lewis, who had thrown 6.2 innings of one-run ball in Game Two, quickly surrendered the lead, giving up a one-out single to Skip Schumaker, then a two-out, two-run homer to center field by Lance Berkman—his first since the Division Series opener on October 1. The rollercoaster ride was just beginning.

Garcia began the second as he had the first, walking Mike Napoli and then allowing a single to Craig Gentry, who had drawn the start in center field against the lefty. Lewis, looking like man who had never been asked to bunt before in his life—he had one sacrifice in 19 major league plate appearances including the postseason—bunted into a double play that the Cardinals made look routine; David Freese fielded the ball, threw to Rafael Furcal covering third base to force Napoli, and Furcal—whose cannon arm survives despite his myriad of injuries—firing to first base in time to get Lewis. Kinsler salvaged the inning by golfing a ground rule double to deep left center field, but by the time Garcia got out of the inning, he was up to 49 pitches.

With his starter shaky in an elimination game—and with both a fully rested Edwin Jackson and Jake Westbrook in reserve—Tony La Russa could have pulled Garcia for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the second, but Lewis glided through the inning with comparative ease, retiring Yadier Molina on a grounder and striking out Nick Punto, who continued his ongoing bat follies by letting the lumber fly out of his hands and nearly into the Cardinals dugout during one futile hack. With two outs and nobody on, La Russa wisely decided it wasn't worth burning a pinch-hitter, and was rewarded for that decision when Garcia worked a 10-pitch third. Lewis continued his groove as well, setting down the Cardinals on just 13 pitches, the last a fly out by Albert Pujols—hitless since Game Three—that appeared destined for the great beyond but died at the warning track.

As in seven out of 16 previous games this postseason, La Russa decided he was better off digging into his bullpen before the fifth inning than he was staying with his starter, who had allowed seven of the 14 hitters he faced to reach base. For the seventh time, righty Fernando Salas was the first clown out of the car, fitting as the game suddenly turned into a blooper reel. The first batter he faced, Cruz, popped a shallow fly to left field; Furcal and Matt Holliday played a game of "No, I Insist You Take This, Good Sir" until the ball clanked off the left fielder's glove for a two-base error. Napoli followed by scalding a ball down the left field line for his 10th RBI of the series and a 3-2 lead. Gentry struck out on a changeup, and then Lewis came up to bunt again. This time, he bunted straight back to the pitcher, who sailed the ball into center field in a desperate attempt to start a double play. Napoli couldn't advance beyond second, however, having jammed his left ankle sliding into the base. Despite writhing in pain for a couple of minutes and being examined by Ron Washington and the team trainer for several more, he remained in the game, but he advanced no further (postgame x-rays were negative).

The Rangers took their turn with the fielding follies in the bottom of the fourth inning. Berkman hit a grounder to the left side that Michael Young knocked down while moving to his right. He bobbled it, and after rushing his throw, Lewis missed first base entirely with his foot. That may have cost the pitcher focus, as he walked Holliday on four pitches and threw first-pitch balls to each of the next three hitters he faced. Freese hit a potential double play grounder to Kinsler, but Holliday executed a Hal McRae-style takeout slide that upended Andrus, causing his throw to sail over Young's head. That sent Berkman to third; he scored when Molina grounded to Beltre, tying the game at 3-3. The slopfest of an inning ended with high comedy as Lewis struck out Punto, who raised the bat above his head, samurai style, before thinking better of another unsuccessful show of emotion. Little Nicky Punto, will you never win?

With Salas still pitching, the follies continued as Freese dropped a sky-high Hamilton popup to start the fifth, the ball bouncing off his head and rolling down his back for the Cardinals' third error; this was anything but championship-caliber play. The Rangers capitalized with Young's double to left center, retaking the lead at 4-3, but they probably should have gotten more. With Young on third base two outs later, La Russa ordered Napoli intentionally walked. Washington went to his bench for lefty David Murphy, and with Arthur Rhodes nowhere in sight, the Rangers had the platoon advantage. With Game Four starter Derek Holland warming up in the bullpen and Yorvit Torrealba in the on-deck circle to suggest that he would pinch-hit for Lewis, Salas pitched around Murphy, walking him to load the bases. Instead of pulling the trigger, Washington revealed that it had all been an elaborate decoy, sending Lewis up to hit for himself; predictably, he struck out. Judging by Colin Wyers' math, this was a glaring mistake on the Texas manager's part. With the bunt taken away, the run expectancy margin between having a pinch-hitter bat (0.79 runs) instead of the pitcher (0.42 runs) was almost as high as it ever gets.

Lewis at least came back with a nine-pitch 1-2-3 inning, but thanks to more defensive mishaps, he faltered in the sixth. After striking out Pujols looking on a low fastball on the inside corner—PITCHf/x showed that the pitch just before it, called a ball, had been slightly higher, emblematic of Gary Cedarstrom's inconsistent strike zone, particularly at the lower edge—Berkman beat out a slow roller to third base, just the third hit of the night for the Cardinals. Holliday followed by chopping a ball to Young, who bobbled the ball as he looked to second for a potential double play then lost a footrace to first base for his second error of the game. After walking Freese to load the bases and push his pitch count to 95, Lewis’s night was done.

On came Alexi Ogando, who had been tattooed for seven hits, five walks, and four runs in two innings of work in four previous appearances this series. Again, he was a mess, going to 3-0 against Molina; after getting the gimme’ strike, he threw up and in for ball four, forcing in the tying run. The Rangers caught a break when Napoli picked Holliday off third base with a throw from his knees; on the slide back, Holliday's troublesome right hand jammed into Beltre's foot as he blocked the base. After a wild pitch in the dirt advanced the runners, Ogando walked Punto and departed, having thrown just four strikes among his 12 pitches. Holland, working on three days' rest after his dazzling 8.1 shutout innings, came on to face Jon Jay, who had pinch-hit for Schumaker and then remained in the game via a double switch; on his second pitch, he drew an easy comebacker. At the end of the inning, Allen Craig took over for Holliday in left field—a move that would loom large, as it cost La Russa a key bench piece.

The Rangers appeared to deliver the coup de grâce in the seventh as Lance Lynn started his second inning of work by surrendering back-to-back homers to Beltre and Cruz. The latter, a third-deck shot down the left field line, gave the Texas right fielder a share of the record book with his eighth homer of this postseason, tying Barry Bonds (2002) and Carlos Beltran (2004). The Rangers weren't done, either. After Napoli struck out, Murphy singled up the middle but was erased on a forceout via Holland's lousy bunt back to Lynn. Octavio Dotel arrived via a double switch, with Ryan Theriot subbing in for Punto; his wild pitch sent Holland to second base, and he scored when Kinsler singled up the middle to run the lead to 7-4. After Andrus struck out to end the threat, the Rangers stood nine outs from their first world championship in franchise history, enjoying a three-run cushion to boot, but the light at the end of this tunnel turned out to be an oncoming crazy train.

Holland mowed down the side in order in the seventh, retiring Pujols on a weak grounder to end the inning and getting Berkman to fly out to start the eighth. The Camaro-mustached southpaw had held the platoon advantage against the grizzled switch-hitter; Berkman batted just .242/.333/.411 against lefties this year, compared to .316/.430/.580 against righties. Even with Mike Adams at the ready, Washington chose to push his luck by leaving Holland in to face Craig, a righty who crushed lefties (.313/.343/.657) at a more extreme clip than righties (.316/.372/.504). On the second pitch of the at-bat, Holland hung a curveball, and Craig crushed it for a solo homer to left field, cutting the lead to 7-5.

Still Washington pushed his luck against the righties; Holland retired Freese but gave up a single to Molina. Finally Adams came on, but things didn't go his way; he surrendered an infield single to pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso—the pitching change forced La Russa to burn pinch-hitter Gerald Laird, which didn't seem like much at the time but would again loom large—then gave up a single to Jay that loaded the bases. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux came to the mound to give Adams a pep talk, and one pitch later, Adams drew a comebacker from Furcal to escape the jam. The Rangers were three outs away from champagne.

One half-inning later, closer Neftali Feliz was on, and the plastic wrap was surely up in the visitors' locker room, the bubbly on ice. Feliz struck Theriot out on a pitch practically over his head, but facing Pujols, who was 0-for-10 since Game Three, he gave up a first-pitch double to the left center field wall to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Berkman. Feliz temporarily lost the strike zone, walking him on four pitches and going 2-0 to Craig; he recovered to strike him out looking at an 84-mph cutter right in the center of the zone—a pitch that may as well have had a "CRUSH ME" sign taped to it.

The Cardinals were down to their final out. Up came Freese, who had been a quiet 5-for-19 in this series after winning MVP honors for his red-hot NLCS. He took a cutter low and away for ball one, looked at an inside cutter for strike one, and couldn't catch up to a 98-mph fastball. The Cardinals were down to their final strike, the Rangers poised to dogpile. Feliz threw a carbon copy of the previous pitch, a 98-mph heater in the same spot, and Freese didn't miss it. He sent a drive sailing to right field, where Cruz misplayed the ball; it went over his head and off the right field wall for a game-tying triple. Team Entropy simply wasn't going to let this season end. The Cardinals had a chance to win the game right there, but Molina hit a more playable drive to right that Cruz caught, bringing about the first extra inning World Series game since 2005.

It looked as though their stay of execution would be short-lived. On for his second inning of work, Jason Motte gave up a one-out single to Andrus, then served up a two-run homer to Hamilton, the ailing slugger's first since September 23—a span of 90 plate appearances—and his third hit of the night, equaling his total for the rest of the Series.

Again the Rangers were three outs away from a championship, again with a two-run cushion, and again they failed, this time in even more humiliating fashion, as La Russa had run out of position players with the pitcher's spot due up third. With lefties Descalso and Jay ahead of that spot, Washington called upon Darren Oliver, who gave up singles to both, the latter a bloop into no-man's land in left field. Jackson, the best hitter among the Cardinals' remaining pitchers (8-for-30 this year but just .184/.229/.214 lifetime) was on deck prior to the latter, but La Russa called him back in favor of Kyle Lohse on the grounds that the latter was the better bunter; even at this juncture, La Genius was wasting fingers like he had them to spare. Lohse's bunt was a bad one, in the air over the head of Beltre, but it required Andrus to make an outstanding pick, stopping in his tracks as he was headed to cover third on the wheel play and then throwing to first.

Oliver departed in favor of Scott Feldman, who got Theriot to ground to third base, scoring Descalso (Jay held at second) and cutting the lead to 9-8. That brought up Pujols. Predictably, Washington ordered the intentional walk, not only surrendering the platoon advantage to Berkman but putting the winning run on base—a behavior considered taboo in every state except Mississippi, where though technically legal, it ranks just below marrying your sister in terms of social acceptability. Just as predictably, Washington's luck at handing out free passes to the slugger like they were Halloween candy finally ran out.

Feldman worked inside to Berkman, getting ahead of him via foul balls on two of the first three pitches—again, the Rangers were one pitch away from a championship—but the slugger took an inside fastball to even the count and then smacked the one pitch of the at-bat that was in the strike zone for a single up the middle, tying the game and sending Pujols to third base. Craig grounded out, but again the Cardinals had staved off the end.

Westbrook came on for the 11th, and despite falling behind all four hitters he faced, yielded only a single to Napoli and needed just 10 pitches to get through the inning. Washington had to pinch-hit for Feldman with Esteban German, which left Mark Lowe as his only remaining righty, with lefties Mike Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson his other alternatives—neither particularly appealing, but at least they had thrown more than the one inning Lowe had thrown in the past five weeks.

Predictably rusty, Lowe fell behind Freese 3-0 with a fastball and two sliders, but he battled back to a full count. On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Freese connected, drilling the ball to deep center field… a no-doubt homer. Buck, echoing the call his father made on Kirby Puckett's walkoff shot in Game Six of the 1991 World Series—a shot which set up Jack Morris's gem—called out, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" as the ball landed and the Cardinals celebrated. Had he summoned another one of his father's famous calls—"Go crazy, folks!" from Ozzie Smith's 1985 NLCS homer (it pains me to type that one) or "I don't believe what I just saw!" from Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series homer (aaaaah, that's the stuff)—it might have felt forced, particularly from the oft-wooden younger Buck. This call, however, felt perfect in its minimalistic sentiment: we get one more night of baseball after this incredible, improbable game at the tail end of this exhilarating postseason—the first Game Seven since 2002.

It's 6 AM as I type this, and I'm in no condition to crunch more numbers or provide much more context, except to say that Washington’s mistakes in this one can stand next to La Russa’s inexplicable gaffes in Game Five both in terms of their number and their severity, and that this time around, La Russa did a far better job at staying out of his own way.

As to Game Seven, both teams are banged up. Napoli’s ankle isn’t the Rangers’ only concern; Cruz left the game in the 11th with a groin strain. Holliday’s status has to be considered questionable as well (though both hitters are expecting to play). Lohse would be on turn, but the Cardinals have Chris Carpenter ready to start Game Seven on three days’ rest, though the last time he did that, in the Division Series, he lasted just three innings while giving up four runs. The less heralded Matt Harrison will start for the Rangers, as Washington initially planned; with Holland having thrown 23 pitches tonight, their best alternative out of the bullpen may be spent; instead, it’s Wilson, who’s been cuffed around a bit but who could be needed to provide length in case the starter falters.

In a series that’s been this crazy so far, who knows what we’re going to get? I sure as hell don’t, but I can’t wait to find out. I can only hope that Team Entropy—our collective suspension of the need to root for a specific team with an interest towards the greater good of maximizing end-of-season chaos—can come through in the clutch one more time.

****

This piece is dedicated to the memory of Justine D. Price, a former colleague of mine from my design shop days who passed away suddenly, shockingly, at the age of 42 earlier this week. While we hadn't worked together in more than 10 years and hadn't seen each other in two or three, it was always a gas to catch up with her, and even the briefest note from her on Facebook—usually a link to the kind of quirky baseball articles an art history professor comes across in out-of-the-way places—brightened my day. Her sunny presence, incredible talents, dry wit, and generosity of spirit will be missed by all who knew her.

I spent early Thursday evening attending a gathering in her memory, sharing my grief and reconnecting with so many others I hadn't seen in all too long, then coming home to catch up with the baseball game via the magic of Tivo. In light of my somber mood, I am particularly grateful that baseball gave me—gave all of us—a game so weird and wonderful to share.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

54 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

SaberTJ

Well done Jay. Sorry for your loss.

Oct 28, 2011 07:57 AM
rating: 12
 
IvanGrushenko

I'm pretty sure Napoli's scalding ball was down the RF line not LF, but otherwise a pretty good summary. I didn't hear Buck's call because I WAS THERE!!!!!!

Oct 28, 2011 08:15 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Yup you are correct on Napoli. I knew where the ball went but my ability to communicate my sense of direction failed me.

Far more importantly, that is so awesome that you were there. I'm happy for you.

Oct 28, 2011 09:33 AM
 
IvanGrushenko

Thanks Jay! (beams)

Oct 29, 2011 11:20 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

I don't, I'm watching the highlights and the MLB announcers say walking Pujols to face Berkman was a no-brainer, so...maybe it's okay if I marry my sister?

uggh

Oct 28, 2011 08:15 AM
 
dianagram

If you walk Pujols to face Berkman, is Mike Gonzalez REALLY that bad a reliever that you couldn't bring him in to turn Lance around to his weaker side?

Oct 28, 2011 08:20 AM
rating: 1
 
bbienk01

Or, to crib from Joe Sheehan, if you know you plan to intentionally walk Pujols, why take out the lefty Oliver in the first place? Isn't it more important to turn Berkman around to his weaker side than Theriot?

Oct 28, 2011 10:32 AM
rating: 1
 
Llarry

I have never understood bringing in a guy and asking him to issue an IBB to the first batter. Couldn't the outgoing pitcher have done that just as well? Do you really need a fresh arm for that?

Oct 28, 2011 16:36 PM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

"It was a mess, a gloriously sloppy bacon double cheeseburger of a mess that remained true to the chaotic excitement of the past 31 days."

==================

It wasn't "great" baseball ... but it WAS great drama.

Nicely done Jay.

Oct 28, 2011 08:16 AM
rating: 2
 
jj0501

Msybe tonight we'll get the side of fries to go with that
burger basket. This article is a keeper, Jay, well done,

Oct 28, 2011 08:27 AM
rating: 0
 
buddaley

"Washington had to pinch-hit for Feldman with Esteban German...."

Why did he have to pinch hit there? There were 2 outs with a runner on 1B. Which would you prefer in an extra inning game, the chance that German either drives in the run or extends the inning so that someone else does, and then try to hold the lead with Lowe? Or keep Feldman in the tie game hoping he can maintain the tie until your better hitters come up to start an inning?

It seems to me your priority in an extra inning game is to keep the home team from scoring, and Feldman gives you a far better chance to do that than Lowe does. If the odds of scoring a go-ahead run are good it might make sense to go for it with a pinch hitter, but why do it with 2 outs, a runner on 1B and a lesser hitter?

Oct 28, 2011 08:36 AM
rating: 2
 
beerd90210

could neftali feliz really not go 2 innings in the last game of the year? Darren Oliver?

Oct 28, 2011 08:44 AM
rating: 2
 
Impresario

I actually don't think that in and of itself was such a bad move. Remember Feliz was not sharp at all, and they had two lefties and the pitcher up in the inning. Oliver makes sense there, IMO.

Oct 28, 2011 08:56 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

I think both decisions, to pull Feliz and Feldman, were worth addressing in at least a bit more detail than I gave above, but I lacked the stamina and focus to address either at the time.

Feliz: He blew the save, allowing three of the six batters he faced to reach, and threw just 12 strikes among his 22 pitches. With that performance on his shoulders, and having not gone two innings since June 21, I don't see a whole lot of justification for bringing him out for another inning. I can find several things to fault Washington for, but pulling him was not one of them - I agree with Impresario.

Feldman: This one was more debatable, with two outs and man on first; Colin's math says that the run expectancy gain was just 0.07 runs. Feldman had allowed two out of four runners to reach, and threw just eight out of 16 strikes, but with the capability of throwing multiple innings, and the gap between him and Lowe or the two lefties, keeping him in was probably the better play, particularly with righties coming up as the first two hitters.

Oct 28, 2011 09:27 AM
 
Impresario

Great work Jay. Agree on Buck's call as well-I didn't even pick up on the reference at first.

Watching this year's Cardinal team has been an exercise in frustration to say the least. All those blown leads, horrible roster management, and that damn Colby Rasmus trade.....of course they decide to take the World Series to a game 7. Maximize the angst, right?

Oct 28, 2011 08:55 AM
rating: 0
 
bcanfield

"Kinsler salvaged the inning by golfing a ground rule double to deep left center field, but by the time Garcia got out of the inning, he was up to 49 pitches."

Was this a ground rule double or an automatic double? I missed the first couple of innings.

Oct 28, 2011 09:17 AM
rating: 0
 
IvanGrushenko

What's the difference between "ground rule double" and "automatic double"?

Oct 28, 2011 09:26 AM
rating: 0
 
bbienk01

I think an "automatic double" is what we ordinarily think of a ground rule double, i.e., a ball that bounces over the wall and out of play, where the batter is automatically awarded second base, whereas a "ground rule double" is a ball that leads to an automatic award of second base based on the particular ground rules of the park where the game is played, for example a ball that hits one of the catwalks in Tampa Bay.

I've heard some announcers make this distinction, but I have no idea whether the rules of baseball actually do. I also think, given that nearly everyone calls an "automatic double" a "ground rule double," its not really worth making the distinction anymore.

Its kinda like people who feel the need to refer to a foul pole as a "fair pole" -- while its technically more accurate since a ball that hits the pole is fair, I'd rather just say "foul pole."

Oct 28, 2011 10:43 AM
rating: 0
 
bbienk01

apparently I should finish reading the comments before posting

Oct 28, 2011 10:45 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Good example on foul/fair pole.

Oct 28, 2011 10:47 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

I have not seen more baseball than anyone, but I have seen more than most. This game was sloppy, both on the field and off (I found the decision to leave Colby Lewis to bat with the bases loaded in the 5th to be the most inexplicable.
But for sheer drama, I cannot recall anything more powerful.
I love this game.

Oct 28, 2011 09:25 AM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

No wonder Garcia had trouble if he was throwing an 87 mph fastball and an 84 mph changeup!

This is a really fun series! But you can also make a case it's one of those "I don't want it, you can have it" series, with the Cards blowing two games they should have won and the Rangers blowing this one twice.

Oct 28, 2011 09:27 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

For all nearly pitch classifications, I'm going by F/X from MLB Gameday, though yes, that raised an eyebrow. But according to the data at Fangraphs, Garcia's changeup averaged 82.6 MPH this year, the fastball 89.8 MPH, so he doesn't have a lot of room to work with in terms of contrasting velocities. Clearly it works for him in other ways though, at least most of the time.

Oct 28, 2011 09:42 AM
 
bcanfield

A ground rule double is a double that results from MLB's Universal Ground Rules or the ground rules specific to a ballpark (like a ball getting stuck in the ivy at Wrigley). A ball that hits in fair territory and then bounces over the outfield wall (which used to result in a homerun) is not a ground rule double. It is usually referred to as an automatic double or rulebook double.

Most announcers (other than Jon Miller) don't know any better and call them all ground rule doubles.

Oct 28, 2011 09:36 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

To be honest, I had never heard that distinction in my 34 years of watching baseball and 10+ of covering it. The official rulebook contains the term "ground rule double" but not "automatic double or "rulebook double."

For what it's worth, the ball simply bounced over the wall, I believe on one hop.

Oct 28, 2011 09:50 AM
 
pmcfadden

I think bcanfield has it right.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Ground_rule_double

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=neyer_rob&id=1794568

Oct 28, 2011 10:35 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

I understand what both are saying, but I also believe Wikipedia is quote correct when it says, "Ground rule double is also the term used to refer to a fairly hit ball leaving the field in circumstances that do not merit a home run as described in Major League Baseball (MLB) rules 6.09(e) through 6.09(h). MLB rules use no term other than 'ground rule double' for such a two-base award."

Oct 28, 2011 10:43 AM
 
Clay Davenport
(7)

He is right, but in a meaninglessly pedantic way; the term is used for a bounce over the fence all the time.

The same logic would preclude the use of the terms "foul line" or "foul pole" (they're fair, after all), or even a "pitcher". Early rules made a clear distinction between "pitching" and "throwing" a ball, and virtually nobody outside of Rip Sewell has "pitched" a ball since the early 1880s.

Oct 28, 2011 11:09 AM
rating: 1
 
randolph3030

I've never in my life heard anything referred to a "rulebook double". Did you really not know what he meant? Or are you just being pedantic? I'm sure you're correct, but I'm surprised that (of all things) sticks in someone's craw so much.

Oct 28, 2011 10:58 AM
rating: 2
 
ofMontreal

Was it my old timey tv or did Fox ditch pitch trax last night? I thought the ump was squeezing the plate hard but didn't have that reference point. I thought the 1-0 pitch from Oliver to Descalso was a strike, just like he did. But then the Cards didn't get that same spot in the top of the next, so maybe we had consistency.

Oct 28, 2011 10:15 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Fox has backed off the use of PitchTrax though they did show it at times - the questionable Pujols K, for one. To be sure, there were inconsistencies both horizontally and vertically - check the link to the essential Fastmaps, which use Mike Fast's observations about the differing de facto zones called against righty and lefty hitters. At a glance, I'd say that while others had more expanded zones - Game Four, in particular - this one seemed to have more crossover (called balls called that were more in the zone than some of the strikes).

Oct 28, 2011 10:25 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Regarding Fox tech stuff, I loved that black and white shot they did showing Lewis clearly missing first base with his foot. I'm not sure if it was some kind of infrared technology or something but it was very effective.

Oct 29, 2011 00:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

According to Twitter, the Cardinals have removed Matt Holliday from the roster due to a sprained wrist, replacing him with Adron Chambers. Allen Craig gets the start in left field.

Oct 28, 2011 10:45 AM
 
Matthew
(455)

Great article, Jay. I also was there, and it was a hoot. As a Cardinals fan, I need to mention that the Rangers fans were awesome. Made for a fun time.

Was Lohse's bunt really "bad," or did he mean to do it? Beltre was coming like a train down the line, so if he doesn't do that, it is an easy out at third.

Oct 28, 2011 11:42 AM
rating: 0
 
bbienk01

I want to second that about the Rangers fans. I had no opinion about these fans before my Giants played them last year, but after that I genuinely felt that if my team wasn't going to win, there wasn't a more deserving fan base. Maybe we'll get a re-match next year.

Oct 28, 2011 12:13 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

I would classify the technique as bad - putting the ball in the air is generally the last thing you want to do on a bunt - but the result was good.

Oct 28, 2011 12:17 PM
 
beerd90210

can't seem to post reply, directly. so I'll respond to Jay's comment defending pulling feliz: it's darren oliver.

Feliz can't through Descalso, Jay, and a pitcher?

Oct 28, 2011 12:29 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Darren Oliver has been pretty damn good for awhile now. Past five seasons: 0.6 HR/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.6 K/9, and even better this year: 0.5, 1.9, 7.8. .212/.250/.305 vs LHB last two seasons. Feliz at .159/.234/.253 vs. LHB in that span, but having already fired most of his bullets while showing that he had far less than his best control. Not gonna kill Wash for that one.

Oct 28, 2011 12:55 PM
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Regarding Cruz's play, via ESPN's Mark Simon on Twitter:

The @fieldingbible folks say 17 balls hit in 2011 to apx spot of Freese triple, with 4 sec hang time. 3 were caught. So yes, tough play.

Oct 28, 2011 12:32 PM
 
bbienk01

Although ordinarily the RF wouldn't have been playing as deep as Nelson Cruz was before the ball was hit, seeing as usually you aren't playing "doubles defense."

Oct 28, 2011 13:05 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

It's a good question to which I don't know the answer, and I'm not sure the Fielding Bible people or Mark do either. It's also a small sample size based upon data that includes some amount of subjective judgement. I repeated it simply to suggest that it was anything but a routine play - the chances of it being caught were probably less than 50/50.

For what it's worth, Cruz is considered an above-average defender according to FRAA, UZR and Plus/Minus, with estimates of his value ranging from 4-13 runs above average per year over the last 3. Total Zone puts him much closer to average (+0/8 per year) but it would seem to be the outlier here.

Oct 28, 2011 13:30 PM
 
bbienk01

Yeah I do appreciate your point, and thanks for sharing what the defensive stats say about Cruz.

Admittedly, I'm relying solely on my eyes here, but it looked like it was going to be a fairly routine running catch by Cruz had he not slowed up. That's not to comment on Cruz's overall defensive abilities, or to take anything away from Freese, who hit the ball hard.

Maybe I'm overrating the likelihood that Cruz would have caught the ball had he not slowed down, but it never looks good when an outfielder gets that close to a ball when he wasn't moving near full speed.

I'm also not accusing Cruz of not trying -- I'm guessing that he lost track of it and had to slow down to figure out where the ball was, or else he just misjudged how hard it was hit.

Oct 28, 2011 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

When I originally saw the play, I thought Cruz stopped and jumped when he would've caught it if he kept running. However, the Game 7 notes indicated that Cruz has an injury so maybe he was playing hurt in Game 6.

Oct 29, 2011 00:32 AM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

Worth noting that he was at "no doubles" depth. At that depth I think it was a tough play but one that is probably made 50% of the time. Looked like he drifted on it a bit, perhaps realizing it was going to be a jumping play against the wall and not wanting to get there too early. At least he didn't Jose Canseco it off his head for a walk-off homer, though that probably would have locked up the Rudolf Clausius Award for him.

Oct 28, 2011 13:25 PM
rating: 0
 
dbiester

Is Uehara already back in Baltimore? How could he be worse than Oliver?

Oct 28, 2011 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Oh, get real. Oliver allowed four homers in 57.1 innings this year. Uehara allowed 14 in 66.1; the man has a serious gopher problem.

Oct 28, 2011 13:22 PM
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Great, great Series coverage, Jay. Way to go.

Oct 28, 2011 14:34 PM
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Thanks, Joe. That certainly means a lot, coming from you.

And likewise, of course. Just when I think I've wrung as much as I can from a game, I find a couple hundred words in the newsletter on an angle I completely ignored.

Oct 28, 2011 16:11 PM
 
randolph3030

Get lost, troll.

Oct 28, 2011 18:03 PM
rating: 1
 
jocampbell
(148)

"Judging by Colin Wyers' math, this was a glaring mistake on the Texas manager's part. With the bunt taken away, the run expectancy margin between having a pinch-hitter bat (0.79 runs) instead of the pitcher (0.42 runs) was almost as high as it ever gets."

That might be the math but why think it is a glaring mistake? Your SP has pitched only 4 innings, he's pitched pretty well following the mistake to Berkman in the 1st, you've got a 4-3 lead, and you think it is glaringly obvious that you should yank the SP that early and burn a pinch hitter because on average in situations of that type, you increase your chances of scoring a run by .37? Even the .37 figure is fuzzy since it is an average for situations of that type and takes no account of the particular pitcher on the mound, the pitcher who would be hitting, the available pinch hitter, etc. Maybe someone would have made a different decision in that situation (e.g., maybe they would have a different assessment than that made by Washington & Maddux of how Lewis was throwing) and maybe some other decision might have been a better one, but I don't see why Washington's decision is a "glaring mistake".

Oct 28, 2011 15:14 PM
rating: 0
 
drawbb

Just as I expected, Game 7 turned into an anticlimactic dud. We finally had a good World Series again for the first time in 9 years, but the finale stunk...plus, it's the 9th time in 17 years under this playoff format that the title was won by the three biggest current "have" franchises: Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals--which absolutely blows from an interest standpoint.

Oct 28, 2011 20:18 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The thing I found a bit "unfair"(?) is that the Cardinals, who got into the playoffs via the wild card, got home field advantage just because of the All-Star game. On the other hand, I do think Washington did some horrible managing and I think he was a fool to bring in Ugando in Game Six.

Oct 29, 2011 00:31 AM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

It's ridiculous having the All-Star game determine home field. Another one of Selig's idiotic schemes. He can't retire soon enough. He is perpetually tinkering with (and ruining) the sport.

Oct 29, 2011 06:05 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Check out Mike Fast's look at Lowe's fateful pitch to Freese: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15375

Oct 29, 2011 10:39 AM
 
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