Pretty as a Picture, But Astros Fail to Frame It

How many outfielders can do what Willie once did?

How many outfielders can do what Willie once did?

When Astros shortstop Carlos Correa went deep in the hole and made that inspired desperate grab and throw for out number three in the bottom of the 9th tonight against the Royals, the winning run for KC went dying on his race to the plate from third. Correa already had given the Astros their only run of the game on an earlier sac fly. Now his beyond the pale super hero abilities had carried us into extra innings – and all amped up to break a 1-1 tie and keep the streak of total success against Kansas City going one more time.

That prospect was as pretty as a picture, but the Astros couldn’t frame it. Everybody can’t be Carlos Correa. Can they? Even Carlos Correa can’t be Carlos Correa every time. Can he?

Not really.

The top of the 10th started hopefully, as Astros left field Preston Tucked laced a nice solid opposite field single to left. But then Chris Carter lined out to KC 2nd baseman Omar Infante, who was able to double off Tucker at first for leading too far into his run before he saw that the ball had not cleared the infield. That double play killed Houston’s last hope for the night as Colby Rasmus quickly fanned to end the inning.

Then came the bottom of the 10th and the Royals scored a man from second base on a two-out dying quail single to right to take the game, 2-1. They were put in that position to win after Paul Orlando singled to right with one out. For whatever reason, Orlando waited until the next batter, Jared Dyson, flied out on a hard hit ball to right field. Orlando then stole second base and soon after scored on Alcides Escobar’s dying bird one-bagger. Will Harris was the pitcher of record for Houston in the game’s losing walk-off hit conclusion.

We’ve got a good team in Houston again, finally, but losing still is going to happen every now and then in the long season, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. I hate losing. It no longer keeps me up at night, as it did as a kid, when my old Houston Buffs lost.  My pain now from the Astros losing is far lighter, relative to more important issues in life, and pretty much restricted to the losses that occur late in what I like to think of as “winnable games”.

To keep it simple, a “winnable game” to me is any game that goes into the last three innings either tied or separated by only two runs in the 7th – and only one run in the 8th or 9th. Stat-Heads would be more likely to express this idea in a more refined scientific way as any late inning game in which both teams retain a fairly equal probability of winning.

Saturday’s game with the Royals was such a game. Carlos Correa’s defensive gem in the bottom of the 9th took the win away from the Royals. The Astros then gave the momentum back to KC in the top of the 10th when young Mr. Tucker ran himself into an avoidable double play, setting up the loss of what could have been the table-setter for an “Astros win”. It just didn’t happen Saturday night.

Sunday is a brand new day. And this Sunday is one of those days that the “Big Bear” takes the mound.

Time and Hope are always the best cures for disappointment. And we have reason to hope over night in this case.

PS: Rookie outfielders should also work on trying to tune into the sound of the bat on the ball to help judge “come in or go back” on those harder to see line drives hit straight at them. Maybe that doesn’t work in big league venues, but it sure used to help me – and I needed the help.

Having said that, we recognize that the chances of getting fooled by the flight of the baseball are high for most of us mortals. But that’s also why most us mortal wannabes never made it anywhere close to the big leagues without buying a game ticket.

Of course, outfielders should do everything in their power not to drop a pop fly, even if it is human for just about everyone, with the exception of Willie Mays in his prime, to sometimes do so. My sympathies do go out to Mr. Tucker on that one. Had there been a large rock in left field, I’m sure that he would have found a way to locate its dark side.

______________________________

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