Mark Townsend

  • Dodgers put four defenders on right side of infield — and it works

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 hr ago

    Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly took the term "defensive shift" to a new level on Friday night, successfully debuting an alignment we can honestly never recall seeing before.

    With the game tied in the 12th inning, San Diego loaded the bases against Dodgers reliever Kevin Correia with one out, setting the stage for left-handed swinging Seth Smith to be the hero. Because Smith tends to pull the ball , the Dodgers usually put on a standard shift with an extra infielder taking up shop in short right field during his plate appearances. In this case, though, Mattingly decided to tighten things up even more with the winning run 90 feet from home plate.

    Center fielder Andre Ethier was called in to the infield, which again is not all that unusual. Five man infields are used frequently in game-ending situations such as this one, because even a medium fly ball stands a good chance to score the winning run. It's a percentage play, with the extra infielder giving the defense a better chance to prevent the run.

    What was unusual here is how the extra infielder was used and how the defense was ultimately aligned.

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    Sat, Aug 30
    5:40 PM PDT
    LA Dodgers at San Diego
    Preview Game
  • Andrelton Simmons keys Braves win with remarkable run-saving play

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew2 days ago

    In what feels like a now weekly occurrence, Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons made a defensive play worthy of the highest possible praise on Wednesday night. Only this time, it doubled as a potential game saver, as Simmons' heroics prevented the game-tying run from crossing home in Atlanta's eventual 3-2 victory over the New York Mets

    It happened in the eighth inning with a runner on third, two outs and rookie Travis d'Arnaud at the plate. d'Arnaud hit a grounder deep into the hole at short, which forced Simmons to range about three steps into the outfield. That was not a problem for Simmons. However, the angle and his distance from first base made it seem like an impossible play for him to complete unless he pulled off some magic.

    As we should have learned by now, Simmons is absolutely capable of creating magic.

    In two fluid steps, Simmons snagged the ball and then launched into the air while twisting his body into an off-balance, mid-air throwing motion.

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    Sat, Aug 30
    4:10 PM PDT
    Miami at Atlanta
    Preview Game