There are very few things in baseball more embarrassing than being the guy who hits a would-be single to right field, only to be thrown out at first base by a strong-armed outfielder.
Think about it, you're basically watching your own humiliation develop right in front of you. You're running right into it, hoping against hope for a bad throw or your body to develop a second gear it didn't possess just moments earlier. It has to be agonizing.
Now imagine being the guy who hit a would-be single to right field, only to be thrown out at first base by a strong-armed outfielder — twice. Not just twice in one career, mind you, but twice in the same season. That's the unfortunate tale of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren, who on Friday was victimized by the 9-3 putout for the second time in just under four months.
Haren, to his credit, put a good swing on Kyle Hendrick's third inning fastball and hit it on a line. Unfortunately, right fielder Nate Schierholtz was playing in and likely thinking about the possibility of throwing him out at first. It really set up perfectly for Schierholtz as the placement of the hit brought his momentum into the throw. The only question was whether or not first baseman Anthony Rizzo would get back to the bag on time to take the throw.
It was an awkward scene as Rizzo raced to the base and received the throw. According to first base umpire Tony Randazzo, Rizzo's foot didn't catch the bag initially. However, replays showed that Rizzo was indeed flexible enough to keep his toe on the base, meaning Haren was out — again.
Now here's a look back at the last time Haren was thrown out from right field.
Gerardo Parra, who was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, is the man with the canon. The pick by Paul Goldschmidt may have been the most impressive part of this play. It doesn't just take a good throw. It also takes a head's up first baseman who can pick it a little bit.
Of course, sometimes it takes luck, too, which is how Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays was able to pull off 9-3 putouts on consecutive nights back in May.
And just like that, we've covered all four 9-3 putouts in MLB this season, which is a really high number for a single season. For a little perspective on how rare it truly is, there wasn't a single 9-3 putout in 2013, and if you look back to 2000 there have been only 20, including those from this season.
If there's a silver lining for Haren, at least he's not one of the five position players on that list.
But the dark cloud over everything is the fact that Haren was lit up for seven runs in the Dodgers 8-2 loss to the Cubs and lost his fifth consecutive start. He may be on the verge of losing his starting gig with the Dodgers, though he may have received a reprieve with Paul Maholm suffering a knee injury on Friday night.
Still, this isn't exactly a ringing endorsement from manager Don Mattingly.
Drew Butera is the backup catcher who was forced into pitching duty twice earlier this season.
Mattingly was joking, obviously, but the joke told the story.
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