Though Jason Giambi finished the Cleveland Indians 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night as the offensive hero — thanks to his three-run sixth inning homer off Bronson Arroyo — he was also involved in a head-scratching moment that was certainly good for a few laughs. At least for the non-Indians fans out there.
It came in the fourth inning after Giambi had doubled to right center, which was an interesting play in its own right. Nick Swisher, who doubled home a run just one batter earlier, was on second base but had to wait to see if Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo could run the ball down. He couldn't, the ball then one-hopped off the wall, but by the time Swisher could rev up the engine for his 180 foot trip from second to home, the Reds were executing a perfect relay and Brandon Phillips nailed him at home by several feet.
To set it all up, that puts the not-so-fleet of foot Giambi at second base with two outs and run producer Carlos Santana at the plate. If you think about it, even with the two out advantage (runner doesn't have to hold up on a liner) that's probably a spot where Santana would need to hit a tweener between the outfielders or a ball down the line to get Giambi home. But regardless of that, the main rule of thumb for Giambi as the baserunner here is to not take an unnecessary chance or make the third out at third base.
In other words, make good and sure the baseball gets far enough away from the catcher before trying to advance. And for goodness sake, don't even think about stealing third. It's not worth it when you're already in scoring position, and besides that there's a left-handed batter at the plate. That leaves a clear view and easy throw for Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan.
Honestly, you'd think the latter wouldn't even need to be said considering the Giambino has only attempted two steals (both successful) since 2008. But, sure enough, on the 3-1 pitch, he was off to the races. And, sure enough, Hanigan threw him out from Progressive Field to the Great American Ballpark even with Reds third baseman Todd Frazier shifting towards shortstop.
Rally over. Crowd deflated. And in the words of Reds' broadcaster Thom Brennaman, "Where in the WORLD is Jason Giambi going?"
Maybe manager Terry Francona, via MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, can clear this one up:
"I was trying to give him a running start so he could score," Francona said of Giambi's sprint to third. "You can put that one on me."
Well, that's a roll of the managerial dice if we've ever seen one. Of course it's genius (and perhaps even funnier) if Giambi somehow swipes it. As it is, though, Giambi minimized its impact on the outcome and made a better headline for himself with his home run a couple innings later.
That's for someone else to write about, though. We're still enjoying this.