Last week, we looked at a completed ‘IBAF style’ scorecard from a game in which the Oakland A’s Brett Anderson got the better of Boston. The Red Sox take centre stage again this week and it’s in a losing effort once more. However, the reasons for choosing this game did not include any anti-Boston sentiment. It was chosen because of Carl Crawford’s record-tying performance and its usefulness in highlighting a few scoring plays not included in the previous example.
The Tampa Bay Rays won the game 5-3 and, despite conceding a run in the first inning, looked comfortable winners through most of the contest. Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to make things interesting at 4-3, but the Rays immediately fought back in the bottom of the inning to make the score 5-3 and Troy Percival pitched a three up, three down inning in the ninth to seal the victory.
A scan of my completed scorecard can be accessed as a pdf here.
Sometimes it isn’t until you start totting up the totals on your scorecard at the end of a game that you notice some of the quirks. There were only three pop-ups throughout, noted down using the non-IBAF approved ‘P’, which seems a little low and maybe suggests something about the way the two starters, James Shields and Brad Penny, pitched. It then struck me that I hadn’t needed to use the IBAF double-play notation at all. My preconception is that there aren’t many games during the Majors that don’t include at least one double play, although perhaps it happens more frequently than I think. It wasn’t something picked up as a notable event in any of the game reports I’ve read.
Call the police!
The lack of DPs, and possibly the lack of any mention of the lack of DPs, was due predominantly to an incredible bout of base-stealing. Nine bags were swiped in all. Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bartlett and Michel Hernandez all got one each while Jacoby Ellsbury, who memorably stole home against the Yankees during the 2009 season, was caught trying to steal second in the second inning. Yet the man of the day was the Rays’ Carl Crawford. He stole six bases, tying the Major League record for most stolen bases in a single game.
Scorecards are a great way to see very quickly how a player performed in each of his plate appearances during the game, providing more info than a box score can convey (and, as any baseball fan knows, box scores do tell you an awful lot). Crawford’s batting row on page two reveals when and where he stole each of his six bases and they make for interesting reading.
When base-stealing causes errors (and when it doesn’t)
Crawford made his intentions clear right from the off in the first inning, when he reached first base via a walk and then stole second. The disorientating effect his running had on the Red Sox is shown by the error against Jason Varitek and it’s a good play to look at in detail from a score-keeping perspective. The line that links the second base ‘box’ and the third base ‘box’ indicates that the two events were part of the same overall play: Crawford ran to second base, Varitek tried to throw him out, the ball sailed past the person covering the bag allowing Crawford to head on to third base.
It was a play that made me grab for my copy of the IBAF scoring manual just to be clear on the rules and the notation needed. It’s fairly well known that an error is not charged against a catcher if his wild throw, which would normally be an error, allows a base runner to reach the base he is attempting to steal. In that situation, the event is credited to the base-stealer rather than put as a mark against the catcher. However, if a bad throw allows the base-stealer to move on from the base he stole, that has to go down against the catcher because the runner is simply profiting from the other player’s mistake. The notation in this case is ‘e2T’. Broken down, this means:
- ‘e’ – it was an extra base error. As stated last week, a lower case ‘e’ is used for an error that allows a base runner to advance an additional base, whereas a capital ‘E’ is used for a decisive error: one that would have led to an out had the error not been committed.
- ‘2’ – the error is by the catcher, whose fielding position number is always 2
- ‘T’ – a capital T denotes that it was a throwing error. An ‘F’ is used if the fielder makes an error dropping a fly ball (as Scott Hairston did in last week’s example), while no additional letter is used if the error is committed while trying to catch/field a ball.
When did he steal that base?
Carlos Pena’s single brought home Crawford from third base to tie the game at 1-1, but he was left stranded in scoring position in his next two times on base, during which he stole three bases combined. His two stolen bases in the fifth inning provide a good example of why it’s useful to note down when each base was stolen. Crawford led off the inning with a single to right field (the ‘9’ is used to show that the hit went in the direction of the right fielder: position number 9) and he then stole second while Evan Longoria, who was batting third in the lineup – hence the ‘SB3’ notation, was at the plate. Longoria then struck out and when Pena flied out to shallow right field(*), Crawford decided to get himself to third and give Pat Burrell (batting fifth – therefore the stolen base is noted as ‘SB5’) a chance to bring him home with two outs. Unfortunately, ‘Pat the Bat’ kept his bat on his shoulder as strike three went past to end the inning.
(* – I noted earlier that there were only three pop-ups in the game. Some would have noted this out as a pop-up as it was caught by the second baseman, Pedroia; however I thought a ‘fly out’ was more appropriate as he had to go out into shallow right field to make the catch. Those are the sort of decisions you can make when scoring as a fan: noting things down in the way that makes most sense to you).
Long night for Longoria
Crawford stole two more bases to take his total to six and you’ll notice that five of those steals were made when Longoria (‘3’) was at the plate. The scorecard neatly shows that Crawford got himself into scoring position in each of Longoria’s five plate appearances and the third baseman was unable to bring him home on any occasion. He made an out on three of those occasions, but couldn’t be blamed for the other two. in the first inning, Longoria was hit by a pitch. In the seventh, he hit a single to right but Crawford had to stop at third. Manny Delcarmen, who had just been brought in as relief after Penny’s six-inning outing, then hit Carlos Pena to load the bases and followed this by plunking Burrell, bringing Crawford home. That capped off an extraordinary game for Carl.
One final notation to highlight is Michel Hernandez’s sacrifice bunt in the eighth inning. While I, and most other people, would refer to it as a sacrifice bunt, the IBAF scoring method calls it a sacrifice hit. I’m not sure why, but that’s how it is. You can either have a sacrifice hit (SH, followed by the details of how it was fielder – in this case the first baseman Youkilis fielded it and throwed the ball to the second baseman Pedroia who was covering first base) or a sacrifice fly (SF). No bunts are allowed!
In some respects this was an easy game to score because there were no batting or fielding substitutions to note down (as opposed to last week’s example). Still, it was a good way to brush up on the notations and rules for stolen bases, errors and sacrifices, not to mention being an historic and enjoyable game to watch. If you’ve got any comments about the scorecard, please pass them on below.