In just about every situation, a baserunner wants to do everything within his power to avoid getting caught in a rundown. Unfortunately, the game of baseball doesn't care what they want, so baserunners often find themselves in that exact position — more times than not without a hope of reaching safety. On Friday night though, Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Coco Crisp of the Oakland A's refused to accept their fate, and in both cases lived to fight for another 90 feet.
Harrison, who has been Pittsburgh's Mr. Everything this season, came off the bench on Friday and still managed to contribute two important hits in extra innings. In the 10th, he singled, stole second and moved to third on a fielder's choice, and it was the latter that required some nifty baserunning.
After rookie Gregory Polanco hit a tapper back to the pitcher, Harrison was caught in no man's land between second and third. Initially, his goal was to survive long enough that Polanco could advance to second base, essentially replacing him, but Harrison just kept ducking and dodging while the Mets failed to keep up, and eventually he made it to third safely.
It was amazing athleticism on Harrison's part, but here's the problem. Harrison's baseline was established on the first tag attempt, and from there he's supposed to stay within three feet of that line either way or be ruled out. At one point, he lunged about three feet into the grass, so third base umpire Jeff Nelson technically should have ruled him out right there.
A missed call, but still an effort that shouldn't be missed.
And perhaps most amazing, New York escaped the inning without allowing a run, so the call didn't directly affect the outcome. One inning later, Harrison stepped up again and this time left no doubts by drilling a walk-off RBI double that gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 win.
In Crisp's case, the play wasn't quite as spectacular, but at least it was legal.
He was dead to rights about 20 feet off the bag and Marlins first baseman Garrett Jones was charging at him. Typically, that's when the runner gives up or makes a token attempt to advance, only to be thrown out. Crisp had other ideas. With one juke move that many believe may have actually been a ninja move, Crisp was able to avoid Jones' tag and literally scamper back to the bag safely.
He didn't even have to veer a foot off the baseline. Juke, and back to first safely.
So now the question is: Which baserunning escape did you enjoy more? The mostly illegal one by Josh Harrison, or the totally legal one by Coco Crisp?
Fire away in the comments.
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