April 16, 2009

Ryan-Doubling means running, really fast

As a leadoff hitter Thursday versus the Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals' Brendan Ryan laced a line drive down the third base line.

The ball fast-rolled into left field and spun its way over the left field foul line. Cubs' left fielder Alfonso Soriano raced over to the wall to play the carom, but the ball took a quirky deflection and jetted past him, rolling back into fair left field. Soriano did not have much else to do about it except chase it down.

Meanwhile, and by meanwhile, I mean from the crack of the bat, Ryan sprinted out of the box and immediately took a path into the right side foul territory near the first base line that would allow him to make an efficient cut past first base. Ryan knew he had two bases from the initial path of the batted ball, but he picked up the ball out in left field without slowing down in the least.

Many major league base runners would have eased up coming around first and glided into the second base. And gliding would have been a mistake. Ryan forged ahead, and when the ball took that tricky bounce off the foul side wall in left field, he continued to stride long and well around second base, cutting the angle to as straight a line to third base as possible, eventually sliding in well ahead of the throw from left field.

The official scorer awarded a double and gave Soriano an error, but the assignment of an error was inappropriate, since Soriano should not have been faulted for an unusual bounce off a wall. By rights, so to speak, Ryan should have been credited with a triple, based not only on the subjective view that he "earned it," but also upon the factual basis of the way Soriano could not have done anything to prevent an odd deflection.

Ryan's pure hustle from the "get-go" made all the difference in the offensive play.

Ryan grades an A on his extra basehit baserunning skills.

Game #11 -- April 16, 2009 -- vs. Cubs

photo by Barbara Moore