Pujols looks to me like he is hurt-injured near his left foot and is moving rather gingerly. Like Hamilton and his obvious issues with the groin injury, Pujols looks limited. Didn’t Pujols foul off a ball in that same area during game one?
Anyway, the Cardinals should have switched assignments and had the Ponto cover the throw from the outfield leaving Pujols to cover 1B and not allow Elvis to take that big an advance off the unguarded 1B bag. Furcal to take the throw into 2B, if necessary. Poor execution by the Cardinals made the play possible.
Plenty of things could have been done in order to limit the opportunity for Andrus to advance to second, but can we really believe that had he held at first he wouldn’t have been running first pitch? Good chance he swipes 2B. Seems like a moot point, the timely hit by Andrus and execution to get the sac flys are the big factors here.
Comment by B Schmidt — October 21, 2011 @ 11:34 am
Am I wrong in thinking that LaRussa blew it by pulling Motte too early in order to get the heralded “lefty-lefty” matchup? I think Motte’s overpowering stuff has a much better chance at stopping an injured Josh Hamilton than Arthur Rhodes with his slow junkballs. At worst, you limit the Rangers to only one run and take your chances in extra innings.
Although Curt Schilling apparently agrees with you, a case can be made that LaRussa did the right thing. A healthy Hamilton had a 21.9% K% and a .347 wOBA vs. LHP’s and a 15.4% K% and a .377 wOBA vs. RHP’s. And, it’s not like the at bat produced a horrible result as Rhodes did retire him. Unfortunately for STL, Hamilton hit it well enough to get the run in and the fast runner to 3B. If LaRussa had left Motte in and Hamilton had hit a SF that also moved Andrus to third, the other half of the 2nd guessers would be saying he should have brought in a lefty to face Hamilton.
lol, speaking of that sort of things, are there articles about that sort of defensive positioning? I know that sabermetically (simplified), one base in any way = good, off base in any way = bad, for an offense obviously. So if a team is sort of giving you a single and hoping that you don’t hit a double, which is less likely, I’d think that it helps you out.
Comment by Antonio Bananas — October 21, 2011 @ 11:55 am
I agree with you about the Cardinal’s bullpen not deserving to be blamed for the Ranger’s 9th inning comeback. These kind of things happen all the time through no fault of the pitchers.
But there’s a bullpen related issue that came up last night which I haven’t heard anyone mention yet, and that’s how carrying 8 relievers leaves the Cardinals with a very skimpy bench.
In the bottom of the 9th, the slow-footed Yadier Molina led off with a walk. As Molina represented the potential tying run, Larusa went to his bench for a pinch-runner. But the best that he could come up with was backup catcher Gerald Laird. I have a hard time believing that a 31 year old backup catcher like Laird represented that much of an upgrade from Molina, but Larussa’s options were limited by the sparcity of position players on his bench.
Would a legitimate base-stealing threat have changed the outcome? That’s impossible to say, but it’s certainly possible. It would of provided a distraction for pitcher Perez, it might have opened up holes in the Ranger defense, or it might have allowed the Cardinals to steal 2nd with no outs. Speed is what won the game for the Rangers last night. If the Cards had had a speed option in the 9th it might have changed the outcome in their favor.
I’m just saying that Tony should have taken into account that possible scenario BEFORE the play ever materialized. Pujols has been clearly limited by some left foot ailment; you can see how he runs to first and even exist the field as though he were stepping on eggs shells. That foul ball off the inner back part of his left foot sure hasn’t helped matters either. And he needn’t have trailed the runner, just stayed close enough to the bag to make Elvis Andrus respect a possible throw back to the bag. Punto could have easily taken the throw in from the outfield. When Andrus saw there was no cover on 1B he knew he could take a very wide turn around first base.
Yes, that’s my point. To make a football analogy, it sort of like the old comment about the prevent defense that all it does is prevent you from winning. I have the same feeling about guarding the line. By placing two defenders right on the line, you are effectively cutting their range in half and I’d be willing to bet guarding the line gives up many more bases than it saves.
TLR went from an absolute genius for leaving carpenter in for Game 5 in the LDS to just merely a genius for his bullpen usage and platoon in LCS, to still a genius for PH Allen Craig at the right time in G1 and 2, to just another idiot because his bullpen moves did not get StL out of a 2nd and 3rd with no out situation.
I find it a bit disappointing that at a sabermetrivc analysis site there was more about run expectancy based on this situation, and perhaps looking at all similar outcomes over say the last 25 years to see just how many times a team got out of a situation like this AND how they did it.
 The cardinals were likely to give up 2 runs that inning. The actual run expectancy may be 1.5.
 TLR was going to take the blame for those runs regardless.
The only way TLR is “still a frickin genius” is if StL gets extremely lucky and TEX makes 3 outs before they score those runs. If StL retakes the lead, then they will have “bailed out their manager”.
Comment by CircleChange11 — October 21, 2011 @ 1:38 pm
I posted the following in the comments section of another website today:
Re LaRussa, I think TLR gets too much credit when his teams win and too much blame when they lose. Whether you want to look at it in the big picture (winning with WC teams and losing with huge favorites) or the small picture (he was a genius for how he handled the bullpen in Game 1 and, according to Curt Schilling, his decision to pull Motte for Rhodes may have cost his team the series). To me, the job of the manager is to put his players in a reasonable position to succeed and as long as the manager does this, the players (plus luck and randomness) should get the lion’s share of the credit or blame for the results. For instance, to me, you can make a reasonable argument for and against replacing Motte with Rhodes…Motte has a higher K% vs. LHB’s, but Hamilton has a higher K% vs. LHP’s. LaRussa went with his gut, chose between two reasonable choices and the results didn’t work out in his favor.
FOX and ESPN kept showing the stat about teams blowing a 1-0 lead in the 9th inning of a World Series game, but the best comparison to last night’s game, in terms of the kind of swing it represented in the Series, was Game 2 of the 1992 World Series, Toronto at Atlanta. Exact same situation: Home team won Game 1, took 1-run lead into 9th inning of Game 2, closer gives up 2 runs, and home team suffers agonizing loss and missed opportunity to grab a commanding lead that was oh so close the home fans could taste it. I remember it well: I was at the game in Atlanta 19 years ago. Most demoralizing loss I can ever remember. I’m rooting for Texas in this World Series, but I feel for the Cardinals fans right now.
Really, if you’re not going to pinch-run Theriot in that 9th inning, why is he on the roster? If he could still hit decent, he’d be starting ahead of Punto. They wouldn’t have had to trade for Furcal. Running is the one and only thing he now does well as a ballplayer.
LaRussa went with his gut, chose between two reasonable choices and the results didn’t work out in his favor.
Whether TLR leaves Motte in or goes to a reliever, StL still most likely loses the lead.
2nd and 3rd no outs is not a situation the defense usually escapes.
If you IBB to load the bases, you can be assured that it’ll bite you in the ass and the pitcher will walk one of the next 3 guys. That’s not based on data, just my feeling of the “damned if you do, damned if ya don’t” situations.
Comment by CircleChange11 — October 21, 2011 @ 3:23 pm
IMO, if Rhodes is in the game Kinsler just goes on first move.
What a lefty does well in the baserunning game is cause the runner to lean back to 1st. If Kinsler decides to just go on first move, he may steal second on a throw over to first.
Yadi’s throw to second was amazing.
We could always time “Motte to home” and “Rhodes to home” to see.
Comment by CircleChange11 — October 21, 2011 @ 3:26 pm
I think it just came down to, in that situation, if he PR for Molina with Theriot, if the game ends up tied, he will have been forced into using both of his last two players on the bench (since Laird would have to come in to catch). My theory is generally, when you’re losing in the 9th, you do what you can to get the game tied, and then worry about extra innings later. If Theriot significantly increases your chances of winning over Laird, then TLR should have bit the bullet and used up both guys. I guess his thinking was that he didn’t plan to have Theriot steal 2nd, so if Punto was successful at sacrificing, they had two shots to get either Laird or Theriot in from 2B, and the speed delta from 2nd to home wasn’t that large of a factor in TLR’s mind. I can see the argument both ways on this one.
It sure looked to me like when Pujols deflected the throw, the throw was on a path that would have taken the ball significantly off-line from where it was supposed to go. Pujols seemed to be lined up between the outfielder Jay and home plate pretty well, and had to go out of his way to field the ball. Even Jay himself stated afterwards that the throw was offline. I don’t think it’s fair to give all the blame to Pujols on this.
Jeff C said, “If LaRussa had carried 1 fewer pitcher on his roster, he wouldn’t be in the World Series at all right now.
Oh really? Based on what? I don’t think it’s at all obvious that LaRussa and the Cardinals would not be in the W.S. had they carried one fewer relief pitcher. It’s entirely possible that LaRussa got to the World Series DESPITE carrying so many relievers, and not as a result of carrying so many relievers.