There was a moment in the bottom of the second inning in which I was sure the Pirates were about to come off of the rails yesterday. With one out and runners on first and third, Daniel Descalso hit a sharp grounder to Edinson Volquez. It should’ve been an easy inning-ending double play, but Volquez threw the ball home to try and get Yadier Molina at the plate. Molina got into a run-down, and before he was tagged out Jhonny Peralta had reached third base and Descalso was on second. Instead of the inning being over, Adam Wainwright (a good hitting pitcher) was up with a chance to drive in two runs and turn the lineup over. Volquez had looked shaky early on, and I thought for sure the mental error was where the game was going to come apart.
Instead, Volquez got out of the jam and the game turned on a different should-have-been-a-double-play. With runners on first and second and one out in the sixth while the Pirates were desperately trying to stay within two runs of the cruising Adam Wainwright, Molina hit a tailor-made double play to Pedro Alvarez. Neil Walker made a poor turn and his threw splayed Ike Davis out on the ground to make the scoop, but Davis somehow got the ball into his glove. First base umpire Ted Barrett ruled that his foot came off the base and Davis immediately jumped up and signaled for Clint Hurdle to challenge the play, but there was no replay that decisively showed that Davis’s foot stayed on the base.* The game was over two batters later, after an Allen Craig single gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead and Jhonny Peralta’s second homer made it 6-0.
This is a nice encapsulation of the early season to this point: even though the game didn’t come apart at it’s first opportunity to do so, it still found a way to unravel.
*Let’s go on a brief digression to discuss this play. I think Davis’s immediate reaction and his visible “WTF” after the call wasn’t reversed is solid (though understandably circumstantial) evidence that he made the play. I don’t think they got the replay review wrong, though, because there really wasn’t a definitive angle that they could come up with on the ROOT broadcast. If Barrett had ruled Molina out and Mike Matheny had challenged, I think that call would’ve stood, too. The larger problems yesterday were: 1.) Barrett was out of position given the way that Davis had to dive for the ball and he clearly didn’t even look at Davis’s foot at all until after the play had been made and 2.) How on earth can a replay system not have a camera set up to clearly see a bang-bang play at first base? What good is a system that can’t make an accurate call on a play like this one?