It’s very rare in my baseball watching tenure where something will occur during a game that renders me completely unable to speak. The top of the 10th inning against the Reds yesterday was one of those times. It was a moment so drenched in stupidity, that I could just sit there in awe with my mouth agape like a landed fish.
For those of you who were living in a cave the past 24 hours, this is how it shook down: the top of the 9th ended with an Andrew Vaughn out, making him the runner on 2nd should the Sox be able to push the game that far. They did so, with Liam Hendriks coming out to get Michael Kopech out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom. For some reason, Grandpa Galaxybrain at that point decided the time was ripe for a double switch, bringing in Jake Lamb for Vaughn…leaving Hendriks as the runner on 2nd to start the top of the inning.
Now imagine that you’re the GM of an MLB team, and you need a new coach. What would the bare minimum that you’d expect from someone who wanted to be the coach of your team? Would you want him to be able to evaluate talent? Probably. Be a good communicator? Yep. Would you want him to, oh I don’t know, maybe BE FAMILAIR WITH THE RULES OF THE GAME THAT HE IS COACHING? That seems like it would be an important thing to know at the Major League level. Well ole Tony doesn’t have time to read every single little rule in the book. Tony has other things to worry about, like “when is nap time?” and “why isn’t it nap time yet?”
So we were left with Liam Hendriks the pitcher, standing on 2nd base at the start of the top of the 10th inning. The guy who hasn’t had to run the bases since he was a young lad punching a kangaroo back in the junior leagues in Australia. It didn’t have to be this way. The extra innings runner rule looks like this:
So LaRussa could’ve had Jose Abreu standing on 2nd base instead of Hendriks, without being forced to pull Hendriks from the game. While Abreu isn’t exactly Pietro Maximoff on the base paths, he’s an intelligent runner, knowing what to do in any given situation. He’s also fucking huge, which would allow him to potentially blow up Tucker Barnhardt at home should the need arise. Both are things that Liam Hendriks cannot do or be.
After a Grandal walk (shocking, I know), and a Leury Garcia fielder’s choice (also shocking), the Sox had 1st and 3rd with one out. Now, if you have Abreu on 3rd, you have more options to score on a ground ball or attempting a suicide squeeze as again, Jose is an intelligent baserunner.
Now you have Billy Hamilton at the plate, who’s greatest value in this situation would be to lay down said squeeze bunt to get the runner home. However you can’t do that because it’s Liam Hendriks on 3rd who is not trained for this situation and is also a$70 million investment you don’t want broken. So if you’re not going to do the squeeze and you have another outfielder in the form of Adam Eaton on the bench, why do you have Hamilton hit here, as getting the ball out of the infield is not a specialty of his. Zack Collins is literally just sitting there waiting to prove himself.
None of this mattered ultimately, because for reasons known only to Ole Uncle Drinky, Leury Garcia tried to steal 2nd base and was gunned down. Shortly thereafter Hamilton strikes out to end the inning and naturally the Reds walk it off in the bottom of the 10th.
This is now the 3rd time on the season where LaRussa’s choices have directly affected the outcome of the games, and not in a good way. The fact that the offense was unable to string together any hits or the fact that 2/3rds of the starting OF is currently deceased does not absolve LaRussa for not knowing the rules or pulling some mad shit like having Leury try to steal second on a gold glove winning catcher when his run is not the one that matters. No amount of lawyering or being a Hall of Fame Baseball Person can polish the turd that was the top of the 10th yesterday, which is really a shame because Dallas Keuchel kicked all kinds of ass.
-Is Dylan Cease fixed? Is he the best hitter on the team? Both of these things seem possible after Tuesday night as he went 6 strong innings striking out 11 AND went 3-4 at the dish with a double and a run scored. Some credit here to Grandal, as when it seemed like Cease was about to let his mechanics break down he called for about 6 straight fastballs to recalibrate him. It worked, as he got Castellanos and Suarez swinging. More please.
-Yoan Moncada had a few frozen ropes in night one, with an AEV of about 101 mph between them. Once he starts elevating these, they’re not coming back.
-As mentioned above, Dallas Keuchel had himself a day. While the strikeouts were low (only 1), he kept everything on the ground, which at the Great American Ballpark is absolutely key. The starting pitching is going to have to step it up with the offense hurting, and the last two starts are very good signs.
-Michael Kopech was a little wild yesterday, but effectively so. 4 walks and 4 Ks, but no earned runs. I would’ve like to have seen him work out of the jam he created for himself in the 9th, but I also understand the move to Hendriks.
-Next up is a series against the division-leading Royals down in BBQ City. Taking 2 of 3 would go a long way to staking their claim to the AL Central, and nobody really believes that the Royals are for real which can be dangerous. Get it done.