Many readers of this BirdsWatcher blog are probably not old enough to remember that Major League Baseball kept statistical records of GWRBIs (game winning runs batted in) from 1980-1988. It was a controversial statistic, as it could be argued two ways as to which run batted in was the critical run – the one that gave the team its original lead, or the one that was the run that outscored the other team’s final total.
The Orioles’ Taylor Teagarden has three RBIs this year, and there is no dispute that they all were game winners. Today’s 10th inning double that plated Mark Reynolds was the only run scored in the Birds’ 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay, while his two-run walk-off homer in the 13th inning on July 14th gave the Orioles an 8-6 victory over the Tigers.
Most readers are also not as old as am I to appreciate how much this win was an ‘olde tyme’ sort of victory. Games of this sort – with one run scored over 10 innings with only three hits by each team – were much more common in the 1960s, for example.
Probably the only way the Orioles could win a game against a premier pitcher like David Price is to have it develop as it did today. It would be necessary for the Birds’ starter to hold the other team nearly scoreless, have flawless relief, and to then capitalize on the only one or two scoring opportunities that would arise. Gonzalez provided the scoreless start over seven good innings, a series of four relievers did their job, and the one critical gapper by Teagarden was one more than the Rays could muster.
An incredible statistic is that this was the 11th consecutive extra innings win for the Orioles – a feat that has never before been done in Orioles history. Of course this is a great credit to the current bullpen.
The Fundamental Things Apply as Time Goes By
Not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory today, and though there were commendable defensive plays today (especially by Andino) and throughout this six-game road trip, there are still some fundamental elements of the game that an old-timer like me hates to see missing. And these little things – that don’t show up in box scores – have always been and will always be the stuff that separates the good from the average in the game of baseball. Let me talk for a moment about how to handle the rundown of a guy caught off base …
To see the situation of which I speak that occurred in the bottom of the 9th inning, here is a link to the video highlight.
I never played ball at a level higher than small college and summer adult leagues, but everyone I played with would have known to naturally do several things that did not happen here. It should be instinctive that, when a guy is frozen between bases, to immediately sprint toward him with the ball to make him commit to a direction – preferably back toward the base he came from. Then you want to nail him with one throw. Though Ayala took a couple steps toward him, Luis panicked and threw the ball too soon – and the runner heads toward third. NOW… what the 3rd baseman should do is this: when the ball leaves the hand of the player throwing it toward him, he should sprint toward the throw and toward the runner, catching it, and with the momentum, take the runner out. Andino (and most guys I see these days) waited to run until after he caught the ball. This allowed the runner to be able to change direction back toward second base. OK – he was then tagged out after the THIRD THROW – allowing the batter to get to second base and in scoring position. A hit by the next batter would have won the game, and nobody would be talking about Teagarden.
OK, ok, maybe I’m nit-picking … but I think my point stands; and these small elements of the fundamentals – as in all of sports and all of life – apply as time goes by. At least they do if you want to be better than average at your endeavor.
Think Happy Thoughts
Well, enough Debbie Downer! The Orioles took four out of six on the road to New York and Tampa. We’ll take it! The starters were great in this series, and overall the Orioles (other than against Price today) – seem to be hitting a bit better and certainly playing better defense.
And I’m headed to the beach.