Friday, October 26, 2012

Lamont's Call to Send Fielder in Detroit Tigers Loss to Giants Was the Right One

By Sean Gagnier

Yes, the Tigers are down two games in the World Series. Yes, they are struggling to score runs. And yes, I am not the biggest fan of Gene Lamont. But his call to send Prince Fielder home in the second inning of Thursday's Game 2 was the right call.

Everyone knows that Fielder isn't the best guy on the base paths, but he isn't completely incompetent either.

On the play, Delmon Young scorches a ball down the left field line that pulls the left fielder, Gregor Blanco toward the corner of the field. Before the ball reaches the left field corner however, it ricochets off a cutout and takes a weird hop into left field. At this point, Fielder is around second base and is looking to Lamont at third for direction.

Just as Fielder hits third and begins his sprint toward home, Blanco comes up with the ball and fires it over the cut-off man, where Marco Scutaro takes the throw and has to make a perfect throw to the outside of the line in order to both avoid hitting Fielder and give catcher Buster Posey a shot at tagging him out.

Here's where the defense of the call comes in. Lamont knows that this team is struggling to score runs and he knows that getting one there could give Detroit momentum, so he takes a gamble.

Keep these things in mind when thinking about this play. 1. Scutaro needed to make an absolute perfect throw to the outside part of the plate to even give Posey a chance. 2. Posey does not block the plate anymore after suffering a broken ankle blocking the plate a few years ago.

Now imagine that you're Lamont with Fielder charging to third base. You know both of those things and you know that your runner is a biggun who has an awful lot of kinetic energy heading toward the plate. Keeping those things in mind, sending the runner is the right move.

The blame, if there must be some assigned, lies with Fielder and Jhonny Peralta. Peralta was in the on-deck circle during this play. As the player on-deck, you are responsible for moving behind the plate and helping to tell the runner when and how to slide to avoid any tag at the plate.

Peralta moved to the plate too late and didn't give Fielder any signals on where the throw was coming from. Because of the lack of help from Peralta, Fielder opted for a hook-slide in the middle of the plate rather than a straight-slide on the outside part of the plate.

Sure, if Lamont holds Fielder at third then the Tigers have runners at second and third with no outs and Peralta at the plate. You would assume that at least one of the next two batters could at least lift a ball to the outfield to score Fielder, but that wasn't the case.

If Lamont holds Fielder and the Tigers fail to come up with a hit, likely as they only had two, then it becomes a mistake to have held Fielder. Either call is a good one for different reasons, but this is the World Series, you have to go big or go home.

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