Baseball people all recognize that game you are just not going to win. That happened to the Pirate faithful on Wednesday night as they lost 6-1. Although the faithful held hope until the final out, it seems to have been preordained. It was like the baseball gods were saying, “OK, Pittsburgh, you had a good run, but it’s over for now.” This devine intervention is best shown by the two line drive double plays that the Pirates hit into last night. in both cases, with a runner on first, line drives were caught by the second baseman who threw behind the runner to double them off. This occurs as the runner has to look over his shoulder to see the second baseman and the runners first instinct on seeing the line drive is to advance to second or to third so there is that slight move to second that dooms them as the second baseman has a short throw to make the out. On other caught line drive plays, the play is in front of the runner, easily seen and reponded to, or the ball is hit to the first baseman who is already standing between the runner and the base for an easy out. These two rare double plays stopped innings and cost the Pirates four critical outs, and baseball keeps time with outs. It was also a sign that it was the Cardinals night.
The next indication that it was the Cardinals night was in the second inning when David Freese hit a two run homerun on a slider that just happened to wander over the middle of the plate. The pitcher, Garrit Cole, had his “good stuff,” and it is very good, but he made one mistake and the Cardinals took advantage of it. The next run scored on a grounder up the middle to make it 3-0. The Pirates scored their run on a bizarre series of two out hits. Justin Moreau singled to the second baseman, who moving to his right to field the ball, slipped, and that slip allowed Morneau to be safe at first. Marlon Byrd then singled to the shortstop, who instead of making the easier third out at second forcing Morneau, tried to make the out at first and Byrd was safe there. Two on, two out, NL homerun champ Pedro Alvarez at bat. Alvarez hit a ground ball to first that hit the bag and bounced over the first baseman where it was fielded by the second baseman who threw wildly to first. The errant throw, by the way, was toward home where it almost allowed the catcher to make a play on the scoring Morneau. The next batter grounded out to short. For followers of Fifth Game theory, that was the batter who held the key to the game. A hit there makes it 3-2 and the game is on, but this was only an example of how the baseball gods toy with us during the season. This exciting inning, where an infielder slipped, a shortstop hesitated, and a ball that hit first base bounced over a fielder’s head to allow a run to score, is the stuff of baseball’s best drama. Alas, it was only the baseball gods toying with us. The Cardinals scored twice in the bottom of the inning to ice it.
Today, we get Justin Verlander pitching against the remarkable rookie, Sonny Gray, as the Tigers play the Athletics in Oakland. I wonder what the baseball gods have in store for us today!