The Chicago Cubs are struggling to score runs with any sort of consistency, but the one bright spot at the plate, especially lately, has been Alfonso Soriano.
Except, he’s not not exactly a bright spot on the bases. Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Dodgers in LA was the perfect example.
With the bright California sun shining brightly down onto the field of play, Alfonso Soriano hit a deep fly ball to left, where the sun was at it’s worst.
Soriano had already warmed up and played an inning in the outfield, so he knew how bad the sun was, yet after his high, high flyball, the Cubs left fielder just trotted slowly out of the batters box.
Sure enough, Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. couldn’t find the ball and it landed just next to his glove. Soriano could have easily ended up on second with even a smidgen of hustle. Instead, he was standing on first and unable to get into scoring position for his team.
As if to make up for that, Soriano actually made a bigger boneheaded play in the next at-bat. Carlos Pena stepped to the plate and was his usual, patient self, seeing a lot of pitches from LA hurler Ted Lilly. Pena ultimately skyed a deep fly ball out to left, and instead of dancing halfway down the line (like any normal person would do, especially after seeing how brutally unforgiving the sun was for Gwynn), Soriano decided to tag up. With nobody out, and on a fly ball to left field.
Gwynn caught the ball just shy of the warning track in left, fought off the shock that any idiot would actually tag up on a play like this, and fired a perfect throw to second. Soriano was out by eight steps. Not even close. Remember in “Major League” when Willie Mays Hayes tries to steal second, but winds up sliding about three feet short? Yeah, that’s what Soriano looked like. Pathetic.
Without a doubt, the worst three minutes of baserunning I’ve ever seen from a professional baseball player.
Was Soriano attempting to make up for his earlier lack of hustle by tagging on a can-of-corn, routine flyball? If that wasn’t the reason, then he better get checked for a concussion, ’cause something is not right upstairs.
But, if that was the case, why didn’t Sori just attempt a steal? He’s a former 30/40 SB guy, yet has attempted just 19 steals in the past two-plus seasons.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just Soriano at fault Wednesday. Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker were thrown out at second base trying to stretch singles into doubles and Aramis Ramirez was picked off first on a simple, mediocre move from Dodgers starter Ted Lilly. And Darwin Barney might have joined the ranks in the eighth inning when he danced too far off second base. Only a well-timed foul ball from Tyler Colvin saved the NL Rookie of the Month.
Luckily, the Cubs made up for it with some timely home runs, eventually pulling out a 5-1 victory. But something needs to change on the basepaths or this could be another long year on the North Side.