Catcher Meme #23
What's Better Than One Out?
In the games of baseball and softball, we can take a look at the box score after the last pitch has been thrown and not have a complete understanding of the actual events that shaped the game. Often forgotten are the small mistakes that players make which either did or could have affected the outcome of a game.
For instance, last week in a game against the Oakland A's, Baltimore Orioles catcher and Gold Glover Matt Wieters made one of those mistakes. Now the Orioles ended up losing the game by one, but in the fourth inning of a game no team has been guaranteed a win or loss.
In the fourth inning of the game with one out, A's third baseman Josh Donaldson topped a pitch directly into the ground, right on top of home plate. A swinging bunt if you will. With a runner on first base, and the ball at rest so close to the catcher, this will often end up in a 2-6-3 double-play.
Wieters, however, attempted to pick the ball up with one hand and in the process failed to secure the ball. The misstep cost him an opportunity to take out the lead runner and he was only able to throw Donaldson out at 1B. Now, the next batter in the inning grounded out to SS, but a single is all it would have taken to tie the game. All because of one mishandled swinging bunt.
Catchers, are there going to be situations where you aren't going to have time to field the ball on the ground with two hands, raking the ball into your glove to guarantee that it ends up firmly gripped by your throwing hand like this play by Phillies' catcher Erik Kratz (http://wapc.mlb.com/play?content_id=30081841)? Absolutely! But should that be our default approach to this play? Not a chance.
If Wieters had gone to the ground with two hands and secured the ball, he has more than enough time to use his cannon of an arm to throw the runner out at 2B (you can see in the photo that the runner is still about 4 feet away from the bag when Wieters finally starts his throw to 1B).