Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 4/23/16

  • April 23, 2016

I was planning on skipping the commentary in today’s piece, and just writing up the daily free play. But after seeing one of the craziest baseball plays ever, that had to change.

Here’s the setup. Top of the seventh inning, the Rangers are trailing the White Sox 5-0. But Texas was in position for a big inning, as they’d loaded the bases with none out.

Mitch Moreland was up next, and he absolutely smoked a drive down the right field line that Adam Eaton caught on the run. One out. The Texas runners had taken off, so Eaton fired the ball to first base in an attempt to double up Ian Desmond. The tag was missed, but Desmond overran the bag and ended up getting tagged out while in foul territory. Two out.

Next,  White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu made a throw home while on his knees to Pale Hose catcher Dioner Navarro. While this was happening, Adrian Beltre got spotted between second and third base, so Navarro fired the ball to shortstop Tyler Saladino, who then noticed that Prince Fielder had broken from third base in an attempt to score. Saladino got it back to Navarro in a hurry, and Fielder ended up in a rundown. Todd Frazier administered the tag and that was it for the Texas rally. Triple play.

For those scoring at home, this was 9-3-2-6-2-5. I knew I’d never seen anything quite like this crazy trifecta of outs, and indeed I hadn’t. This was the first 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play ever recorded, according to ESPN Stats and Research.

The White Sox players could’t stop talking about the play after the game, and with good reason as it was just nuts to watch. The Rangers weren’t so eager to rehash what happened and I guess I sure can’t blame them.

That’s what I like best about baseball. Anytime I think I’ve seen it all, something takes place that makes me realize that’s never going to be the case.

I split my Friday baseball plays, but cashed my Sharks series play in the NHL, so it was another good night. Lots of those lately and I’ll look for more of the same today.

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Good job by the Indians as the Friday free play winner, and I’ll try to extend the current streak with another baseball call from the afternoon slate.

923 RED SOX (Buchholz) @ 924 ASTROS (Fiers)

Take: RED SOX +107

It’s way too early to write off the Houston Astros. There’s all kinds of young talent on this team, and we all saw what the ‘Stros are capable of last year. But at the present time, this is a struggling entry and I’m going to try and beat them today.

Every team goes through peaks and valleys, and right now the Astros are definitely fighting it. When the pitching is good, they don’t hit. When the team puts runs on the board, the staff gives them right back. Houston is also just not playing good baseball. There was a glaring blunder last night, when George Springer decided for reasons unknown to try and steal third base with not one out and his team trailing 5-0. That’s just dumb, regardless off whether the steal is successful or not.

The Astros face another potentially difficult obstacle here with Clay Buchholz on the mound for Boston. Buchholz hasn’t exactly been razor sharp out of the gate, but he’s off an okay start. The same cannot be said for Mike Fiers, who has been just plain lousy so far and now has to face a very capable Red Sox attack.

I’m not sure what is happening with Fiers. His velocity is down, and so are his K’s, and by fairly significant margins. Fiers is not walking anyone, so that’s a good thing. But his numbers through three starts tell me that his command is simply not there as opposed to his control. The former is what matters more than the latter, and it appears pretty obvious that Fiers is missing in the middle of the zone, hitters are seeing his offerings very well and the results haven’t been at all pretty. Fiers has surrendered a ghastly 42.4% hard hit rate thus far and six of his offerings have already been launched beyond the boundaries.

Buchholz comes out ahead of Fiers on my pitcher rankings. Although the Boston pen has had some early missteps, they still rate better than the Astros on the relief corps numbers. I’m not sure if Xander Bogaerts will play for the Red Sox today after getting hit on the wrist by an errant Luke Gregerson offering in last night’s ninth inning, but I’ll still have a check mark next to the Boston offense, particularly when factoring in the early season splits. There’s also the present four-game losing streak owned by the Astros. With the price being right enough, I’ll grab the small plus with the Red Sox in this one.