Overanalysis: baserunning error costs Tigers a chance at comeback

Duane Burleson

Matt Tuiasosopo ran into an out at third base today, costing the Tigers a shot at a comeback before the score of today's 13-3 laugher got out of hand.

As we all know, the Tigers have not hit well late in games this season. From the seventh inning onward, the Tigers rank among the worst teams in the American League in just about every offensive statistical category.

Today, they found themselves down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but an RBI double (and subsequent celebration) from Matt Tuiasosopo closed the gap to 6-3.

Omar Infante stepped to the plate with Tuiasosopo on second base and no outs, and hit a sharp grounder to shortstop J.J. Hardy. The result wasn't pretty.

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Tuiasosopo's baserunning blunder cost the Tigers a chance at a third run in the inning, which could have changed how the game played out from there. Still, let's break it down.

As we see, the ball is hit to Tuiasosopo's left, but only just. The rule of thumb in this situation for the baserunner is to "run away from the ball." So, with the ball hit to his left, Tuiasosopo should run to third, which he does. He gets thrown out, and the play looks a lot closer than it is due to a poor throw by Hardy.

In reality, this is a pretty unfair situation for Tuiasosopo. The ball is hit in a spot where he would struggle to get back to second base -- not to mention, he would risk getting hit by the ball, resulting in an automatic out -- but would also have a tough time getting to third base, as we saw. I think he makes the right decision here and gets beat by a good play from both Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado.

The one thing Tuiasosopo could have done better here is to get a better secondary lead after reliever Troy Patton throws the pitch. I don't know if he beats the throw to third with a better jump, but getting that extra step or two may deter Hardy from throwing that direction in the first place. If Hardy then chooses to throw to first base for the sure out, then you have a runner at third with one out, giving you a good shot at closing the gap even further during the inning.

More Roars

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