There was an interesting play in the game between the Marlins and Phillies on Monday.
The speedy Emilio Bonifacio was leading off the sixth inning for Miami and attempted to bunt his way on to first base. The bunt went towards the pitcher’s mound towards the first-base side. Cole Hamels jumped from the mound, scooped up the ball and fired it to first base.
Unfortunately for Hamels, he didn’t look before he let the ball go.
The Phillies had two relatively inexperienced fielders on the right-hand side of the infield. Rookie Freddy Galvis has a reputation as being a good fielder, but he’s spent most of his time in the Minors at shortstop and has moved to second base to cover for the injured Chase Utley. John Mayberry Jnr is also covering for an injured teammate, Ryan Howard, at first base. Mayberry has some experience at first base, particularly in college, but has generally been used in the outfield in the Majors.
Mayberry ran in to field Bonifacio’s bunt, which he was never going to reach, and his instincts told him to keep going rather than try to get back to first base. Meanwhile Galvis was slow to move towards first to cover the now unguarded bag.
The result was Hamels’ throw to a ghost fielder at first base, which is not what you need with anyone at the plate, never mind a burner like Bonifacio. He ended up at third base and was driven home by Gaby Sanchez.
It was a collective miscue by the trio. Hamels was the player lumbered with the error and while he didn’t look greatly impressed with his teammates, he was ultimately culpable of throwing the ball without checking there was anyone there to catch it.
The crucial factor was that he probably would have taken a second before throwing, just as Mayberry may not have been so desperate to react to the bunt, had it not been a base-runner as quick as Bonifacio putting pressure on them.
Put it down to an inexperienced fielding collective, a bit of early season rust and the mind-scrambling impact that genuine speed out of the batter’s box can cause.