Oct 092010
Reds RF Jay Bruce commits costly error

Reds RF Jay Bruce commits costly error

October 9 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“When the ball was released from Aroldis Chapman’s hand, it was traveling at 100.9 m.p.h. Chase Utley had watched the previous two pitches by the flamethrowing rookie Cuban righthander go past for strikes. But this one was headed right for him.

When it crossed the plate, the ball was moving at 91.5 m.p.h.

“At first I thought it was going to hit me in my head,” Utley said Friday night after the Phillies’ 7-4 victory over Cincinnati in Game 2 of the National League division series. “Fortunately, it didn’t. And he throws so hard. I felt like I thought it hit me, so I put my head down and I ran to first.”

Wait. So did it actually hit him or not?

“I heard that it didn’t hit him,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

“Yeah,” Charlie Manuel said, “he got hit.”

“I’m not sure,” Utley said. Then he smiled.

Thus began one bizarre – and rather illegal – trip around the bases. And it was only the start of a truly crazy seventh inning that may very well have turned this series in permanent favor of the Phillies.

They scored three unearned runs in the inning to take the lead. Now, the Phillies have a commanding lead of two games to none in the best-of-five series as it heads to Cincinnati, with Cole Hamels scheduled for Game 3 on Sunday.

Sometimes, as Manuel says, it’s better to be lucky than good. Cincinnati made four errors that led to five unearned runs. Reds pitchers hit three batters, and one of them scored. They walked four more, with one free pass forcing in a run.

The Phillies‘ luck turned drastically when Utley trotted to first in the seventh with his team trailing, 4-3. Chapman, viewed as a game-changing weapon entering the series, struck out Ryan Howard on three pitches. But then, Jayson Werth hit a grounder to third and Scott Rolen tried to force Utley at second. Utley slid clumsily but was ruled safe by umpire Ed Rapuano.

“From where I was, he looked out,” Baker said.

That brought Jimmy Rollins to the plate. He hit a line drive to right.

Jay Bruce, one of the best defensive rightfielders over the last two seasons as rated by advanced metrics, moved into position for the catch. Then, suddenly, the ball was past him.

Bruce was frozen as the 46,511 fans squeezed into Citizens Bank Park waved their towels. Utley was headed back for second base, assuming the ball would be caught. When it wasn’t, he made an awkward turn on the infield grass near second base and started sprinting for third.

He may have never touched the bag.

“It was a little hectic,” Utley said.”

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