Bases On Balls
Walks in baseball and softball generate nothing but trouble. Just ask Dusty Baker of the Reds about Sam LeCure and Bill Bray in the 10th inning last night.
LeCure walks David Freese to start the inning. Sure, Freese might hit the ball out of the yard but the odds are getting him out are better. 1 of 15 or so that the ball goes into the seats vs 6 in 10 or so that Freese makes an out. Walking him means a 100% chance of Freese reaching base.
Next, Molina lays down a sacrifice bunt. Runner at second with 1 out.
Jon Jay gets an intentional walk. Yes, this puts the double play back in effect and Jay has been killing Reds pitching. I don’t like intentional walks as a matter of principal but there is at least some logic to it here.
Reliever Bill Bray comes in for Cincinnati and issues a walk to Daniel Descalso. Bray nibbles away with three fastballs and digs himself a 3-0 hole. Descalso doesn’t help the pitcher by swinging at pitches he can’t handle well. Bray winds up issuing another free pass. Making Descalso put the ball in play means you get an out or two around 80% of the time so far this season, yet Bray nibbles away and loads the bases.
The pitcher’s spot is next, so the Cards send up Matt Carpenter to pinch hit. A hot hitter is up against a reliever who has thrown seven consecutive fastballs with only two of them getting into the strike zone. All Carpenter has to do is get the ball out of the infield. Bray nibbles away and winds up with another 3-2 count. Pitch 7 of the at bat results in a sacrifice fly and a Cardinal win.
There is a story about former Boston Braves Manager George Stallings included in Ken Burns Baseball miniseries. While on his deathbed, a visitor asked Stallings, “George, what’s killing you?” Stallings answered—“Bases on balls…”
Reds fans can relate to the late Mr. Stallings.