August 21, 2011
If a triple is the most exciting play in baseball, how thrilling is an inside-the-park home run?
Oftentimes with an inside-the-park homer, something unusual has to happen. The ball caroms off a wall away from an outfielder. Someone attempts a diving catch, misses it, and the ball gets past him. Maybe the architecture of the ballpark comes into play, with the ball pinballing between corners or off a part of the wall that juts out.
But the only thing happening on Altuve's inside-the-parker was speed. Pure speed.
By the time his drive into the left-center gap landed just out of Cody Ross'(notes) reach, Altuve was on his way to third. That's where his sprint really became exciting. Astros third base coach Dave Clark tried to stop Altuve, but he blew right through the stop sign and went for the score.
Rookie impulsiveness? Not so much. As it turns out, Altuve didn't see Clark.
His view was blocked by a Kung Fu Panda.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was in the gap," Altuve said. "I just kept running hard. I saw that the center fielder didn't know where the ball was. I just kept running. As I was close to third base, I tried to look up, but Sandoval was blocking me, so I couldn't see. When I realized there was a sign, it was too late."
OK, maybe Sandoval was just standing in the way. It hardly mattered, as Altuve easily beat out an errant relay throw to home plate.
Altuve's inside-the-parker was the first by an Astro since Adam Everett(notes) ran one out eight years ago. It was also his first major league home run of any kind. According to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, the last Houston player to go inside-the-park for his first homer was Butch Henry in 1992 at Pittsburgh. Bill Doran was the last Astro to lead off with an inside-the-parker, back in 1987.
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