I went to the Mud Hens game on Sunday. While it was a beautiful day spent with my wife, my siblings and their kids, I'm not going to bust out 2,000 words about the experience like I have the last couple times I've gone to Tiger games. I'm also not going to act like I was watching closely enough to notice a whole lot about the game or the Hens' players. One thing that was on display for even the casual observer, though, was Cale Iorg's defense.
Early in the game, I was doing something besides watching the action as a PawSox hitter took a pitch back up the middle. I only looked up when I heard my wife groan at the terrible throw that was way over Ryan Strieby's head at first. I looked at where the player who threw it was standing and thought the second baseman had ranged to his right and sailed an ill-advised throw to first. Then I realized the player certainly wasn't Will Rhymes - probably the easiest player on the field to recognize - and it dawned on me it must be the shortstop. As I said, I wasn't watching the entire play but I can't believe how far past second base Iorg was when he threw that ball. Should he have tried to get the runner? Maybe not, but I made a mental note to try to pay more attention to balls that were hit within his considerable range.
Unfortunately, the next time I noticed Iorg's defense it was because he was making his 12th error of the season. It was a fairly routine grounder with a runner on first and Iorg looked like he may have been thinking a little too much about getting two rather than making sure he fielded the ball cleanly. As he moved to his left and positioned himself for the flip to Rhymes, the ball stayed down on him and scooted beneath his glove. Iorg did kind of a disgusted pause at his mistake before he realized the ball wasn't hit that hard and it would stop far short of Clete Thomas in center field. By the time he had run it down, the runner who should have been the first half of a double play was standing on third. I'm not certain if that pause was what allowed the runner to get to third - in fact, I doubt it - but it certainly didn't look good after the sloppy error.
After these two plays, I remarked that Iorg wasn't having one of his better days on defense but he came back to show what he could do. In the seventh, there was a ball hit to his left that he did well to field cleanly. When I saw he had it, I glanced at the runner to see if Iorg would have time to get him. Just about the time I was thinking the runner was going to beat it out, Strieby was fielding Iorg's throw for an easy out. The very next batter hit a ball that looked like it was going to find its way between Iorg and Argenis Diaz at third. Again, I was surprised Iorg got to it but assumed with him going to his right it would be too difficult to get a strong enough throw to get the runner. Well, from now on I think I'll just assume he will get the runner because he planted and threw a strike across the diamond. This one was more of a bang bang play, but it was clear the first bang was the ball hitting the glove.
I can certainly see why people get excited about Iorg at shortstop and if he can cut down on the mental mistakes, a lot more people may get to see it eventually. I'll close with a couple of other observations. The home run Matt Hoffman gave up to the first hitter he faced was a no doubter. The only question was whether it was going to have enough to land on Monroe Street. It didn't. I didn't see what that pitch was, but it seemed like he was throwing a lot of two seamers early in his appearance. Whenever I thought to look at the gun, it seemed to be 87-90 mph and I wondered where the 95 and 96 mph pitches we saw in Arizona were. In his second inning, he was hitting 93 mph with regularity and got two swinging third strikes. The second strikeout was the first out of a strike 'em out, throw 'em out which brings me to my final observation about this game.
Even excluding the strike 'em out, throw 'em out play, this game saw six double plays. Even stranger than all the two for the price one sales was three of the double plays were on line drives. One was a comebacker to Ramon Garcia with one out and runners on first and third that allowed him to easily double the runner off first (and redeem Iorg after his error). The second one came off the bat of Iorg when with bases loaded, he hit a soft line drive that the pitcher snow coned and then made the easy toss to first to end the Hens' best scoring threat of the game. The third line drive double play was a bullet to first where the Sox first baseman then beat the Hen runner back to the bag, but earlier in the game Argenis Diaz almost did the exact same thing over at third base but the runner just barely got back in time.
With all this going on, perhaps it was fitting that the game ended on a double play. Strieby hit what looked like a single up the middle but the second baseman dove to get it, flipped to short who then got the none-to-fleet-footed Strieby pretty easily.