Milwaukee Brewers outfielders Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun were both at the center of an embarrassing baserunning mistake that ended up proving costly in their 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon. However, if you ask Gomez, the bulk of the blame belongs on Braun, who he seems to insinuate may not have been running hard throughout the entire play.
It happened in the sixth inning with Milwaukee trailing by one run. The Brewers mounted a two out threat against Marlins starter Jacob Turner. Braun was the lead runner on second base and Gomez was on first. That set up Mark Reynolds, who singled to left field for what appeared to be a game-tying hit.
Only it wasn't, because Gomez decided to get aggressive on the play and move to third base on a ball right in front of him. Miami left fielder Christian Yelich was already anticipating that possibility, so he didn't hesitate at all in firing to third base. His strong throw ended up nabbing Gomez — replay confirmed as much — for the final out of the inning just before Braun could come cross home plate with the equalizer.
Now here's where it gets interesting, When asked about the play after the game, Gomez said the following via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinals Tom Haudricourt:
“I’m not even running 100% and I make it there before him,” said Gomez. “If you look at the replay, you’re going to find some answers to this. I run the bases like I do every time. I think he’s supposed to score."
“I think it’s a good play (by Yelich) because I saw him flat-footed and put his head down and hesitated. That’s a tough throw because most of the time that throw hit the runner. That’s why I make the decision to go to third. That’s how you make things happen. They got me this time. If it happened again, I’d go again.”
To be fair, both Gomez and Braun have been out of the lineup this week with ailments. Gomez returned from a back injury on Friday with four hits, including three doubles. Braun returned only on Saturday after suffering from tightness in his previously injured oblique. Neither was one-hundred percent, but Gomez obviously felt like Braun's effort could have been better.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had a different opinion. He indicated both were running as well as could be expected, but in his mind Gomez was a little too aggressive given his condition.
“Obviously, it’s a shorter throw for the outfielder to get it to third with the timing of whether he’d throw it to home, which makes it tough,” Roenicke said. “When you’re on first, if you think there’s a chance (to be thrown out), you need to pull up."
“With the way (Gomez) is running now, it’s not like he normally is. You still have the same instincts but because of the way he’s running now, things change.”
It's interesting to read both perspectives, but after looking at the play it's difficult to question Braun's effort. Gomez's decision-making, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The cardinal rule is you should never make the first or third out at third base because you're already in scoring position. There was little for Gomez to gain by pushing it, and in the end it cost his team one big run in a one run loss.
Gomez is an aggressive player by nature, and there's nothing wrong with that. That was just the wrong time to push it, and he compounded it a bit by shifting the blame to Braun. It's a decision he has to own, and if he expects to be a respected player around the league, he'll have to change his tune in these situations going forward.
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