October 22, 2010
They say death and strange baseball plays come in threes. Don't they say that? Well, they ought to.
Anyway, the San Francisco Giants might rue the third inning of Game 5 of the NLCS come the offseason, because it could be when their season started to die.
Unfortunate mistakes by Tim Lincecum(notes), Pablo Sandoval(notes) and Aubrey Huff(notes) — along with what had to be the shortest bunt in history — set up the Philadelphia Phillies in the deciding inning of their 4-2 victory.
You know how many times Lincecum ever had hit someone with an 0-2 count? Take the tip of your thumb and connect it to your index finger. What do you got? Nada.
Halladay followed with what could be described as an eventful bunt. It only went about 2 feet, and foul, before catcher Buster Posey(notes) picked it up. Posey's quick grab probably prompted umpire Jeff Nelson — who couldn't have had a good look at the play, otherwise he would have ruled it dead on the spot — to call it fair.
Meanwhile, Halladay stood in place, seemingly persuaded the ball was foul and appearing to stay out of the way.
Via the Philly Inquirer:
"When I first hit it, I just didn't think I got very much," Halladay said. "It stayed in front of the plate, but I was thinking it was going to go backward."
Such a diplomat.
Posey made an accurate throw to third, but Sandoval — who was backpedaling to the bag after charging the bunt — had to catch the ball with his back to the base, his feet still moving and his head turning. He made a half-blind stab at the bag with his right foot, but missed and had to try again. By the time he stomped on third, Ibañez had slid safely.
"[I ran] like I had a fire under my tail," Ibañez said with the slightest trace of a grin.
Sandoval, who also fell down on the play, got up in time to throw out Halladay — who never really got going — at first. The Phillies had two in scoring position, and the Giants had blown an opportunity.
"We're inches away from getting a double play," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "So that's a missed opportunity — and it came back to haunt us."
Two pitches later, Huff booted a sharp grounder to first by Shane Victorino(notes). It caromed into shallow center field and two runs scored. Huff made three errors at first during the regular season.
"Aww, man," Huff said. "He's standing up for his first baseman. He's a great pitcher, a great kid. No, this one's on me. Obviously, I made the big one.
"It's all on me tonight."
An exaggeration. But it's not one to say that, had they handled the third inning better, the Giants might be celebrating an NL pennant.