This wasn’t entirely his fault, but can we redefine “aggressive”?
By Christopher Heun
Melvin Mora did it again Friday night. Except this time, he wasn’t thrown out at home to end a one-run game; he only managed as far as second base.
Perhaps this is a cruel comment on the state of the season; even the habitual boneheaded mistakes are more feeble than they seemed six weeks ago. (We’ve documented Mora’s proclivity for these blunders.)
For those of you missed the final disappointing play of Friday night’s 3-2 loss in Texas, with one out Mora was thrown out trying to steal second. It was the back end of a double play, because Paul Bako struck out on the pitch. Kevin Millar, the tying run, was left stranded on third base.
This was a dumb play all around. But in Mora’s defense, according to The Sun’s game story, the blame lies with manager Dave Trembley, who was playing for the win on the road, rather than a tie and extra innings.
I happen to like Dave Trembley as manager; he seems to have a knack for pulling the right strings with the limited talent on his roster. (Apparently, he wisely nipped in the bud any idea Mora might have had about sacrifice bunting in the ninth.) But how could anyone have looked at the ninth-inning matchup of Bako and Rangers closer Joaquin Benoit and predicted anything besides a strikeout?
Bako has struck out 50 times this season in 154 at bats (and five of his eight September at bats). He was facing a strikeout pitcher: Benoit has struck out 86 in 80 innings this year.
Had a groundball pitcher like Chad Bradford been on the mound, then the run and hit would have made sense. In wanting to stay out of a double play, the Birds ran into one. And lost the game.
Trembley and Mora insisted after the game that they were playing aggressively. Maybe it’s in Mora’s and the Birds’ best interests if he tamed it down a bit?
I’ve dug up a few more examples of his inexplicable ninth-inning baserunning. Earlier this season, he stole third in the ninth inning of a game the Birds trailed 5-3. Jay Payton grounded out on the next pitch, ending the game. An irate Payton, convinced that Mora had disrupted his concentration at the plate and cost him a strike, nearly came to blows with Mora in the dugout.
Last year, Mora was the final out of a 5-3 loss to Toronto when he was thrown out at the plate trying to tag up from third on a pop fly caught by the shortstop.
Can anybody out there add to this list?