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Extra Innings Game Creates a Reverse Sacrifice Situation.

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  • Extra Innings Game Creates a Reverse Sacrifice Situation.

    July 20, 2018 game Texas Rangers versus Cleveland Indians. The Rangers beat up Cleveland pitching in the 7th and 9th innings. Score went from 7-4 in favor of Cleveland to 7-6 in the seventh, Indians added one run in eighth to make it 8-6, Texas got back to back home runs in the 9th inning with two outs against the Indians closer to make it a tie game 8-8.

    Bottom of the 10th and the Rangers get the first two runners on base on solidly hit singles. Runners on first and second, no outs, is it time for a sacrifice to put the winning run on third base and the second runner on second base and avoid a double play, or, just hit away and even if there is a double play there will still be a runner on third with two outs?

    Most here will probably say don't go for the sacrifice, but what about a reverse sacrifice? A reverse sacrifice is what probably should have happened next, but did not. The third batter hit a shot to the right fielder who was playing deep. The ball arrived so quickly on one bounce and was also thrown back quickly and strongly enough to cause the third base coach to stop the runner at third so the bases were now loaded with no outs. But wait a minute...here comes that never ending nuanced baseball strategy....

    What if the third base coach had sent the runner home? The best case scenario is the throw is off line, or the catcher fumbles the ball, or the runner beats or avoids the tag and is safe at home and the game is over. The worst case scenario is the runner is out at home with the two other runners advancing to second and third on the throw home. This is what I call a reverse sacrifice situation. It's one thing to do a sacrifice to move two runners over into scoring position, it's quite another to just go for it and send the runner home KNOWING that the worst case scenario will be an out at home plate and the other two runners perched on second and third with one out, aka a reverse sacrifice effect.

    Since the worst case scenario is equivalent to a successful sacrifice, why not take a chance and send the runner home since the play at home was going to be close and it could have meant an instant victory?
    Last edited by Alessandro Machi; 08-01-2018, 08:39 PM.

  • #2
    Another reverse sacrifice situation came up today, this time in the ninth inning. Cleveland vs Minnesota, tie score, bottom of the ninth inning. Runner on first for the Indians, no outs. Ball is a hit a ton to the centerfield wall, runner on first scampers past second base, then has to reverse course to get back to first base after the ball is caught. Now, the batter is irrelevant in terms of his run counting because the score is tied and there is a runner ahead of him and it is the bottom of the ninth inning. The situation called for the runner at first to tag up and at the very least get to second base if the ball is caught. If the ball is not caught, he may only advance one base, maybe two. Maybe, just maybe, if the ball is not caught and he is running on contact, he scores and the game is over.

    However, the reason the runner on first goes at least half way to second base on practically every deeply hit ball is to give the batter room to round first base without passing the lead runner. If the ball is not caught, the team then has at the very least runners on second and third. If the runner tags at first base and the ball is not caught, then basically the team lost the equivalent of 2 bases as runners are on first and second instead of second and third.

    BUT, because the game is tied and this is the bottom of the ninth inning, the most important thing, in my opinion, is to get the lead runner to second base as a worst case scenario. Since the fly ball was caught, and the runner from first had taken off on contact, the lead runner had to go back to first base.

    This is another example of a reverse sacrifice. The lead runner in a walk off situation should put themselves in the best case scenario to advance at least one base since it was not a given batted ball would be a hit. If the ball had been an obvious hit off the bat to the wall and the runner at first wanted to try and score, I would be okay with that because there will be a trailing runner at least at second, maybe even at third on the throw home. If the runner is out at home, the batter is now at either second or third base with only one out. In essence, this would be either equal to or better than if a sacrifice had been performed to get the lead runner from first to second.

    So the conclusion is, in a walk off situation with no outs and a runner on first base, it is imperative to get the baserunner to second base by tagging from first base on a deeply hit ball because even the worst case scenario of a fly out is no worse than if the batter had intentioanally sacrificed the runner over to second base. What makes baseball so fascinating is that rules that apply to the first 8 and 1/2 innings suddenly don't work as well in a walk off scenario. This is the second time a tried and true practice was the wrong strategy to take.

    Remember the reverse sacrifice rule, if the worst case scenario in a walk off win situation is the equivalent to a sacrifice, then take the action that can't be worse than a sacrifice. In this situation running on impact and then having to scuttle back to first base produced a scenario that was worse than a sacrifice, and therefore not the correct course of action to take in a walk off win scenario.
    Last edited by Alessandro Machi; 08-09-2018, 10:56 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Alessandro Machi View Post

      Since the worst case scenario is equivalent to a successful sacrifice, why not take a chance and send the runner home since the play at home was going to be close and it could have meant an instant victory?
      Because you already have runners on second and third (and first) with 3 outs to get one of them home with. Why give up an almost sure out?

      If you give up that out they likely walk the next batter and have achance to get out of it on one groundball.

      .


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      • #4
        Originally posted by SavoyBG View Post

        Because you already have runners on second and third (and first) with 3 outs to get one of them home with. Why give up an almost sure out?

        If you give up that out they likely walk the next batter and have achance to get out of it on one groundball.
        The key here is, how sure of an out is it going to be from a long throw in from the outfield. Granted the ball was hit hard and right at the outfielder. but the outfielder was playing relatively deep. The outfielder has a strong arm, but, that ball has to either reach the cutoff man, or be thrown accurately all the way to home either on a perfect bounce or on the fly to ensure a very strong probability of an out at home.

        f one is ok with a sacrifice in that situation, then one is ok with risking it to get the game over. As it turned out in this instance, the bases were loaded, and even though all three hits were solidly hit, the pitcher (who has since been released by Cleveland), managed to get the next three outs without allowing the winning run to score. Cleveland scored in the top of the 11th inning and ended up winning the game. Twins announcers seemed a bit unsure as to why the Twins did not try to win it on that third hit by sending the runner home.
        Last edited by Alessandro Machi; 08-10-2018, 11:47 AM.

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