The Pittsburgh Pirates have been playing terrific baseball of late, surging from fourth place in the NL Central to second place, just two games behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. That said, you might think they were still mired somewhere in the middle of 21 straight losing seasons if you happened to catch their epic baserunning blunder(s) during their 7-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday afternoon.
In one sequence, the Pirates somehow turned a walk that would have loaded the bases with one out, into a rally-killing, inning-ending double play that took all of us back to our Little League days.
It happened in the sixth inning with Travis Snider on second base and Gaby Sanchez on third. The eighth place batter, Chris Stewart, drew the walk and started his routine jog to first base. However, during this time, Snider wandered too far off second base, which he later admitted happened because he thought the bases were already loaded.
"Absolutely -- 100 percent mental error," he said. Asked when he realized that he had erred, Snider replied, "Soon as Crawford started running at me. Honestly, I was just thinking about getting to third base. [I] take ownership of that mistake."
Snider's mental lapse may not have been a big deal if not for the alertness of Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and relief pitcher Jean Machi. They spotted Snider and quickly trapped him in no man's land, which resulted in a quick and flawless rundown for the first out.
Ugly, ugly baserunning, but only the beginning of the embarrassment for Pittsburgh.
As that was developing, an equally confused Sanchez vacated third base when he would have been much better off holding his ground. He had absolutely nothing to gain by leaving the safety of third base, because Snider was already a dead duck, but he too ended up getting tagged out between third and home, securing it as one of the ugliest baserunning sequences we've ever seen.
As Giants play-by-play man Duane Kuiper put it, "For all you Little Leaguers at home, if you're running the bases, do not do this."
Simple, and true. By the way, that's 1-6-1-5 if you're scoring at home. Not a combination we see often, if ever.
As for what for the runners were thinking, it's nice to hear Snider take ownership of his part. We're still not completely sure what Sanchez hoped to accomplish, but it failed miserably.
In the big picture, maybe this was just baseball's way of getting back at the Pirates for Josh Harrison's wild baserunning adventures that have somehow worked out for them. Not once, but twice Harrison has escaped a rundown he had no business escaping. They say the baseball universe balances itself eventually. For the Pirates, it appears to have balanced in epic fashion on one play.
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