Game 2: Bouncing Balls and Ice Water Veins

Game 2: Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s 3-RBI double in the 3rd bounced off the fence above the 310 sign and was headed back toward home as Marwin Gonzalez flew into pursuit mode.

Game 2: Next the ball makes a carom bounce off the side wall as Marwin observes from below.

Game 2: Now the ball makes a rapid descent landing on its way to a bounce roll as Marwin continues the chase.

Game 2: Marwin finally catches up to the crazy bouncing ball and makes a beeline throw home, but too late. All 3 Boston runners have scored on the biggest hit of the game and Boston now leads 5-4. It is a lead they did not surrender.

 

The Boston Red Sox squared the ALCS at Fenway last night at 1-1 by scoring a 7-5 win over the Houston Astros. In so doing, they became the first team in 2018 to score five runs on Astros starter Gerrit Cole. Jackie Bradley, Jr. recorded the decisive blow with a two-out, bases-loaded double in the third inning that pulled the Sox from 2-4 down to 5-4 up. It was a lead they would never relinquish and it would hold up as the biggest bounce-of-the-ball difference-maker of the night, although ball bounces would also aid Mookie Betts and his involvement twice in the other two runs the Red Sox would score in this Sunday eve Game Two donnybrook. In the 7th, Betts would advance two bases to score from 2nd on separate passed balls charged to Astros catcher Martin Maldonado. Each PB was vastly aided by wild hard throws in the dirt by pitcher Lance McCullers that simply got through the catcher. Either way you divide the blame, Betts’ scamper home made it 6-4 Boston. Betts also doubled home Rafael Devers in the eighth to make it 7-4 Sox.  The Astros score once more in the 9th on back to back doubles by Springer and Altuve, but a long drive to left by Bregman fell about three feet short of another tally and six feet shy of miraculous two-out tie. It was an end-of-game fly ball out instead.

The Only Cure for Baptism Under Fire in Baseball is Ice Water in Your Veins

Yesterday, we neglected to mention the ice-water factor as a key big game ingredient. No matter how good a player you are, you have to play with the heart of someone who also has ice water running through your veins. What happened with Cole yesterday wasn’t his fault. It just happened, no doubt, from him being on the biggest stage of his life for the first time, something he’s always wanted, and even the reason he asked Pittsburgh to work out a deal last winter that sent him to Houston. The young man wanted to win his own World Series title ring with a club that still has an excellent chance of repeating.

Remember the old wisdom: “Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.”

Of course, Cole was nervous. And once all that adrenaline kicks in, it affects almost everything athletically we normally are able to do. That throwing error Cole made on the easy throw to first base is the perfect example. After the game, Cole admitted as much. His heart was almost beating like a tom-tom inside his jersey.

I’m betting he will be his old ice water self the next time. Whether he gets there by prayer or meditation or focus on baseball mechanics only, it’s that important. And even then, sometimes it just hits people differently, but in my own experience ~ and my experience working with people who have blown job interviews over nervousness, the worst cases are the ones involving people who think too much.

If you’ve ever played football, you may have been one of those people who felt nervous until the kick off. Then, once you made physical conflict on the field and dug into playing one rapidly finishing play after another, the nervousness went away. That’s because football doesn’t give you time beyond the physical action to do any extra analytical thinking. On the other hand, the start of a baseball game isn’t the end of thinking. That mental part is just beginning, especially for pitchers, the only player on the field who is guaranteed to be in involved in every play.

My advice? Stay grounded in the moment. Focus on the mechanics of your position. Know what the probable play is going to be if the ball is hit to you. Allow your manager and coaches to do the analytical stuff. Just do your job. Know where the cut off man is, if need be, and make sure you hit him, if said need arises.

OK, Astros, you can still end the need for a return to Boston with a three-game sweep at home. ~ Go get ’em!

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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