Saturday’s defensive plays: Could’ve, or should’ve

Lost in Brad Penny’s mighty struggles to keep his pitches low Saturday was a Tigers defense that had a difficult afternoon on a few plays, two of them in the big second inning that put the Yankees ahead comfortably. They wouldn’t have changed the inning, let alone the game, but they still made the highlights and might have shown players trying to do too much.

“A couple tough plays that might have been made, that we just didn’t make, were costly,” manager Jim Leyland said.

The Tigers insist the first was an out. With Brett Gardner on second and one out, Jhonny Peralta fielded Derek Jeter’s ground ball in the hole at short and fired to third to try to get Gardner. It was going to be a close play, but when Peralta’s throw forced Brandon Inge to the home plate side of the bag to try to field the ball and make the tag, third-base umpire Dale Scott ruled him safe.

“The guy was out,” Leyland said. “That’s not being negative towards the umpires or anything. He was out. We looked at it. That’s no problem. That happens. It was a tough call.”

Inge said the explanation he got from Scott was that he didn’t make the tag. But since the play happened so quickly, Scott wasn’t at a great angle to make the call once Peralta’s throw went to the other side of the bag.

It would’ve meant one runner on and two outs, not two runners on and one, for Mark Teixeira when he hit his home run, so given the way the game unfolded, the impact is debatable. Will Rhymes’ throwing error three batters later had no impact, since Penny struck out Nick Swisher to end the inning. But it still happened, a second baseman trying to make a play and end the inning right there.

Rhymes caught Robinson Cano’s liner and instantly turned to first to try to double off Alex Rodriguez. It would’ve been a tough play, but he obviously had no chance when the throw went wide and into the Yankees dugout, putting Rodriguez on third.

“I think there were some tough plays early in the game that might have been made, but they would’ve been real good plays,” Leyland said. “They were a couple tough plays that could’ve been made. We just didn’t make them. I want to emphasize could’ve been made. I’m not saying should’ve been made. If they could’ve been made, it would’ve helped out a little bit.”

They would not have changed the game.

“Bottom line, we haven’t kept the ball in the ballpark.”

Austin Jackson added an error in the eighth when he came in too far on an Eric Chavez fly ball.

1 Comment

I thought this was going to be about the ground balls Rhymes and Peralta did not field.

Rhymes would have had a tough play anyway as he was running towards second. And the Tigers knew about Peralta’s range issues when they signed him. Still, that couldn’t have inspired too much confidence in Porcello, a ground ball pitcher.

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