June 27, 2008

Looper gets win, but fails at fundamentals, twice

A late-June 4thebirds post from another network, by permission:

We've covered this ground before. Basic baseball. Pitcher covering first base.

But obviously, Braden Looper wasn't watching when an opposing pitcher from the Royals failed miserably at executing this fundamental defensive play. And on that day, poor execution cost them the game.

Last night, Looper also had two chances to get the play right, his first attempt so bad that he ended up getting spiked on the play. Batter-runner, safe, by the way.

C'mon, Loop, we're dogging you here because not only do we want the Cardinals to prosper, but we don't want you to get hurt, guy.

The play is really not a "gimme," so take it seriously. Things can go wrong, so work on this, please.

The play: ground ball to the right side of the infield.

Loop's role (or any pitcher):

You might need to cover first base for the first baseman, so get moving in that direction on any ground ball hit to your left.

Your movement, however, must be directly toward the first base line at first, maybe two-thirds of the way to first, a little closer if you're Molina-slow (sorry, Yadi).

When you get close to the line, do not round your turn, but cut it up the line, and stay on the fair side, where the batter-runner shouldn't be running.

If your first baseman is doing it right, he'll deliver the ball to you several steps before you reach the bag, allowing you to receive the ball and have a step or more to peer down to step on the bag.
Step on first base with your right foot, to help keep the bulk of your body away from the oncoming batter-runner.

Do your best not to cross the baseline, as doing so will probably get you a shoulder in the back or ribs, or a spike somewhere on your foot or ankle.

Analysis or the replay tells me first-time first baseman, Adam Kennedy, did a pretty good job of delivery on both plays, doing nothing to force Looper across the base line. Looper's approach put him all out of kilter, and he was lucky he didn't twist an ankle on the bag, or get flattened by the batter-runner.

But how poorly did Looper execute? Check the spike-hole most likely in his shoe, maybe through to his foot. The deeper the puncture, the "wronger" he was.

Looper can't correct his defense until he learns it, so let's hope he gets it done, because we all really need Looper in that rotation, 4thebirds' sake. Oh, yeah, we're teasing you pretty good, Mr. Looper, because you're scaring us, man.

Resolve the coverage, but first, get a band-aid on that foot.