Baseball is fickle.
Sometimes an opposing pitcher hangs a slider, only to watch a batter swing through it for a harmless strike. Sometimes a batter hits the ball on the screws, only to slowly shuffle back to the dugout after the ball finds its way into an outfielder’s glove. And sometimes, like Tuesday night, an opposing team stages a three-run rally without squaring up a single baseball — and with only one leaving the infield.
Left-hander Michael Gonzalez made his Milwaukee Brewers debut in the seventh inning with the game tied at four-apiece. Granted, he began the inning on the wrong foot with a leadoff walk, but the remainder of the frame can be chalked up to little other than bad luck. Here’s the inning for Gonzalez:
(1) Dexter Fowler walked.
(2) Josh Rutledge reached on a bunt single to catcher.
(3) Carlos Gonzalez reached on a broken-bat single to first base.
That’s it. An ill-advised leadoff walk, and two fluky infield singles. That set the table for right-hander Burke Badenhop – for whom it didn’t get any better.
The inning started with a sacrifice fly from Troy Tulowitzki. Hardly something to get upset about, especially considering Tulo’s scorching-hot start to the season over the last couple games. A sacrifice fly is a victory in many ways with the bases loaded and no outs. Get an out and set up the double play with a sinkerball pitcher on the mound.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Michael Cuddyer then reached on the third infield hit of the inning, and Todd Helton did more damage with a bloop single to center that scored another run. It’s difficult to blame Badenhop for the Helton blooper, though, as Helton essentially flipped his bat out as far as he could and nubbed it into center off the end of his bat.
The pitch was roughly belt-high to Helton, but it wasn’t close to the strike zone.
Thus, to recap, the Rockies managed three runs in the seventh inning on a walk, three infield hits, a sacrifice fly, and a bloop single on a pitch that was six inches off the plate. That’s just a collection of crazy, unfortunate circumstances that led to a Brewers loss.
It reminds me of one of my favorite baseball quotations, though, which comes from a book by Peter G. Doumit called What I Know about Baseball is What I Know about Life. It says:
“Baseball is a game of long-suffering, and if one doesn’t have the endurance to get over the hard times, bad hops, bad luck, failure-at-the-rate-of-70%-or-better hitting, and all the other things that happen that try one’s patience, they won’t last long in the game.”
I like the idea of baseball being a game of long-suffering. It’s an idea that encompasses a lot — from the long, never-ending plight of Cubs fans to the unlucky seventh inning at Miller Park last night. Let’s just hope the pendulum of suffering swings back to the opposing side for the series finale this evening.
DARVISH NARROWLY MISSES PERFECTION
Right-hander Yu Darvish retired 26-consecutive Houston Astros on Tuesday night before giving up a first-pitch single to Marwin Gonzalez to lose the perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning.
It was a masterful performance by Darvish. He struck out 14 batters in only 111 pitches (78 strikes), and his slider was particularly effective against the Astros. Hitters swung at 23 sliders from Darvish and whiffed 12 times (52.2% whiff rate).
Unfortunately, the performance will be remembered for the one hit, rather than the 26 previous outs. Tip your cap to Marwin Gonzalez, though. He stepped up to the plate looking first-pitch fastball, got the fastball he wanted, and hit it hard up the middle.
It was much like the Dexter Fowler home run off John Axford on Opening Day. Axford threw the ball very well, but Fowler stepped to the plate looking fastball and Axford threw a fastball in a place Fowler could do some damage with it. It happens. Big league hitters can square up a baseball when they guess correctly.
Quite the performance from Darvish on Tuesday, though. It was a joy to watch.