Sunday, October 28, 2018

Justin Turner misses chance to end Red Sox ninth inning of 2018 Game 4 World Series between Dodgers and Boston, Sox score four more runs.

It is not Justin Turner's fault, and not much discussion was given to what third baseman Justin Turner did in the ninth inning versus what he should have done. With runners on first and second base and two outs, a slow grounder was hit to Justin Turner at third base. Turner had to charge in and make a valiant throw to first base, but the speedy left handed hitting Andrew Benintendi beat the throw to first base.

However, if infield coaches throughout the baseball world would preach that with runners at first and second base that third base should be viewed as the new first base things might have gone much much better. The top of the ninth inning would have ended with an out at third base, the Red Sox up by only one, and who knows, maybe the Dodgers still get their two run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it?
If Justin Turner does not charge the ball and instead stays within the actual base path on this soft grounder, the out would have been at third base and the top of the ninth inning would have been over with the score only 5-4. Instead, Turner charged the ball and threw to first base and the runner was safe at first base, and four more runs scored later in the inning. The Dodgers would score two runs in the bottom of ninth inning to make the final score 9-6. But if Turner had gotten the final out at third base and the Dodgers had still scored their two runs, the final would have been Dodgers winning 6-5 in game four of the 2018 World Series.
So why isn't it Justin Turner's fault that he raced in to get to the ball quicker to have a better chance at first base when the wiser play would have been to plant himself on the base path and wait for the ball to come to him? It's up to the infield coaches to drill in the concept that when there are runners on first and second, that third base becomes the new first base in certain instances.

It is also imperative that the third baseman learns to OWN the invisible base path between second base and third base if he can legitimately field the ball while in the base path. This poses many problems for the baserunner. If the baserunner collides with the third baseman, the runner is automatically out. If the baserunner runs in front of the infielder and blocks the third baseman's field of view, the baserunner is out. If the baserunner is hit by the ball, the baserunner is out. If the baserunner runs around the third baseman by going behind him, the baserunner may add another half second to one second time to his dash to third base, which basically mitigates the advantage of having a bigger lead off of second base then one can usually get off of first base, and then some.

Would the Dodgers have gotten two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning if the Red Sox had only been leading by one run? Of course we will never know, but being down by one run going into the bottom of the ninth inning is certainly a better scenario than being down by five runs. Four more runs scored after the potential third out was not recorded on this particular play.  

There was a brief discussion by the announcers as to whether or not Turner, after charging the ball, could have gotten back to third base before the baserunner reached third base. However, the issue of Turner staying back on the ball was not discussed. I have seen the staying back strategy worked to perfection by the New York Yankees in a game against the Cleveland Indians. Francisco Lindor was the runner at second base and he ended up being called for running into the infielder. In that instance the shortstop, it might have been Jeter in his final year, deliberately stayed in the basepath when the more logical move would have been to charge the ball. But as long as Jeter had a path to the ball, he is allowed to occupy the base path and it basically meant Lindor would have been out no matter what he did.

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