It's not easy to fool a savvy baseball veteran — and magician — like Michael Cuddyer, but the San Diego Padres managed to pull it off at the most opportune time on Saturday night.
With Huston Street on the mound attempting to protect a 2-1 ninth inning lead, Cuddyer would single leading off representing the tying run. The next batter was Todd Helton, who in Friday night's game hit a go-ahead ninth inning homer off Street only to watch Rockies closer Rex Brothers blow the save and the game in the bottom half. This time around, there would be no dramatics for Helton as Street got him to fly out harmlessly.
That's one out, and the stage is now set for what would amount to a baseball disaster for Colorado and an Academy Award winning performance by San Diego shortstop Ronny Cedeno.
Up next for the Rockies was rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado. After Arenado fell down in the count 0-2, the Rockies decided to play aggressive by putting Cuddyer in motion. Essentially it was a hit-and-run since Arenado was going to be hacking at anything close, but the hope was probably for Street to throw his slider, Arenado to lay off, and Cuddyer to swipe the bag somewhat easily. That's the absolute best case scenario. Another good one would be simply avoiding a game-ending double play on the ground.
Anyway, Street throws the slider, but leaves it out over the plate. Arenado, in protect mode, gets out in front of the pitch and pops into short center field. Cuddyer, meanwhile, seemed to have a good jump but had no idea where the baseball was. And he wasn't getting any help from Cedeno, who attacked the bag as if he was about to take a throw from second base and turn a double play. Cuddyer was completely fooled, sliding hard into the base before the ball was nowhere around. By the time he located it, Padres center fielder Alexi Amarista was camped under it and loading up. It was coming down to Cuddyer's speed versus Amarista's arm, and Amarista's arm won by a step.
You know. the Rockies have made a habit of finding unique ways to lose games over their 20 year history. An 8-3 game-ending double play certainly falls under that category. That said, I'm sure it's happened numerous times before in baseball's history, but the circumstances and the quick thinking involved certainly put this one on a noteworthy level.