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Whatever Happened to “Good Ole Country Hardball?”

Tropicana Field - Image Credit: Major League Baseball/Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Last evening, the Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in extra-innings to extend their losing streak to five games.

In my opinion, the Rays could have won this game in the 10th inning with some “good ole country hardball.” 

In the 10th, with “ghost runner” Bryce Harper on second, Calvin Poche recorded three outs, which left Harper at third to end the inning. 

Phillies reliever left-hander Matt Strahm entered the game in the bottom of the 10th. Isaac Paredes, who was the last batter in the previous inning was supposed to be the “ghost runner,” but was replaced by Josh Lowe, who has 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts this season.

Matt Strahm – Image Credit: Emma Sharon/Latino Sports

Strahm struck out Manuel Margot, and Jose Siri, then to end the inning, Christian Bethancourt grounded out. 

My Scenario: Manuel Margot bunts to the first base side forcing the left-hander Strahm to field the ball — he would have to turn 180 degrees to make the throw to third base. If fielded by first baseman Darick Hall, who throws right-handed; he would have to turn about 90 degrees to make the throw. In both bases, I think the speedy Lowe would have made it safely to third, forcing a play at first base. 

With a runner on third (and possibly on first), the Rays would have two (or three) opportunities to score but it wasn’t to be and the Phillies scored two runs in the 11th to win the game. 

Bryce Harper and Phillies – Image Credit: Emma Sharon/Latino Sports

I’m an “old timer” that believes runners should run hard and fast, make throws to the correct player/location, “learn” the game and not rely on notes in their hats or taped to their wrists. Overall, hustle 100% of the time. I guess in many respects the game has changed and in my mind not necessarily for the better?

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