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The Play Was at the Plate, but Misplay Was at First

October 25, 1986

Forget the Stubing-Grich affair, Mauch's pitching decisions, Baylor's and Henderson's home runs. Forget the errors, walks and the men left on base. Forget, please forget, the second-guessing . . . But do remember what lost the pennant. And not one writer or announcer caught it--shame on all of you.

Back to the bottom of the ninth, fifth game. Ruppert Jones is sacrificed to second base by Gary Pettis after running for Bob Boone, who had singled to open the inning. Rob Wilfong singles sharply to right field. Dwight Evans, who has one of the best arms in baseball, fields this ball cleanly. Evans and Boston have only one play: Stop the run from scoring, which they almost did with a great throw.

With Evans throwing and the pennant immediately on the line, there is zero probability of a cutoff. Like the U.S. Mail, the throw will get through. Boston gave Wilfong second base. What happens? He doesn't take it. He either stops at first base on his own, or is held up by first base coach Bobby Knoop.

That was the totally incorrect decision that cost the pennant, as Schofield then singled down the right-field line. Wilfong would have scored easily from second, and we (would never have seen) Fenway Park again in 1986.

DON LIEBMAN

Agoura Hills

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