ST. LOUIS — Where as some MLB teams will fine players for not sliding into bases on force plays, Nolan Gorman blowing through second base on Tuesday was not only by design, but it also nearly worked to perfection for a Cardinals squad that teaches the tactic in Spring Training.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning of Game 1 of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium, Paul Goldschmidt hit what initially looked to be a routine, inning-ending ground ball. However, a hustling Gorman not only beat Pirates shortstop Diego Castillo’s flip to Yu Chang, but he also ran through second base and evaded a tag while trying to distract the attention of the Pirates’ defense.
With Yadier Molina having already scored to boost the Cardinals’ lead to 3-0, they nearly stole a second run when Chang chased after Gorman. Seeing that, Edmundo Sosa broke from third base and tried to score. Ultimately, Chang fired the ball to home to send Sosa scurrying back to third. With Gorman hung up between second and third, the ball went back to third and then shortstop again. Ultimately, Castillo’s throw home forced Sosa to run beyond the baseline for the third out of the frame.
#MLBFieldVision — “Paul Goldschmidt reaches on a fielder’s choice out, SS Diego Castillo to 2B Yu Chang to C Jason Delay to 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes to SS Diego Castillo to C Jason Delay. Yadier Molina scores. Edmundo Sosa out at home. Nolan Gorman to 2nd.” pic.twitter.com/J3uZRGCRWv
Rarely is it the case, but both managers were happy with the results of the play. Other than Castillo committing two throwing errors and starting pitcher J.T. Brubaker committing a balk in the inning, the bizarre rundown play worked out for the Pirates.
“I thought we ran that play really well because of the fact that it could turn into another run,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “The front side of that play is probably one of the most heads-up baseball plays you’ll ever see. It was Gorman, right? Ran straight through the bag. It’s something that everybody talks about in the Minor Leagues. You very rarely see it. He did it at the right time. He did it, he ran through it. He made the turn so Diego couldn’t tag him.
“It was just a smart baseball play on a tough play that Diego made, and ultimately, we were able to get the out. The run would’ve scored either way, but I actually thought we handled the rundown pretty well.”
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said his organization teaches players to run through the bag in those situations to beat the forceout and hopefully keep the defense occupied. First-base coach Stubby Clapp reminded Gorman of the run-through-the-bag tactic just before Goldschmidt’s ground ball, and it nearly stole the Cards a second run in a game that they would go on to win, 3-1.
“It’s something we talk quite a bit about in the Minor Leagues coming up — the importance of not sliding into the bag when that run is important and beating the throw,” Marmol said. “It was good to see because you rarely see it happen that way. That was a really big play, for sure. That was the right time to do it — actually, the perfect time.