Sometimes, in baseball, really good baseball players have bad nights. It just happens, because it’s essentially impossible for even the best players to have great games every time out.
Prince Fielder is one of those players who is among the best in the game. On Tuesday, his night didn’t go so well, but it was really by no fault of his own. The Oakland Athletics conspired to entirely foil all of his best efforts in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
The first issue for Fielder was that A’s starter Brett Anderson pitched extremely effectively. In total, the Detroit Tigers combined for just two hits off of Anderson in six innings pitched. Anderson is also a left-handed pitcher, which is an additional challenge for the left-handed hitting Fielder. And yet, in his first at-bat of the night, Fielder hit a bomb to center field that on most nights goes for a home run. On this night, however, Coco Crisp had other intentions.
One of the subtle, yet amazing parts of this clip is the way that Fielder hit this ball; off-balance and leaning out over his front foot. Still, he drilled it. Prince Fielder is a very strong man. More obviously, look at that catch by Crisp. That was insane, and perhaps fitting restitution for a player who had made a costly two-run error in Game 2 of this series.
Five innings later, Fielder faced A’s reliever Ryan Cook in the 7th inning. Once again, Fielder pasted the ball, and once again, an Oakland outfielder was there to rob him of what should have been a hit.
Yoenis Cespedes is the man in left field who seems to come flying out of nowhere, catch the ball, and then do an impressive somersault routine.
As if to rub a little extra salt in an open wound, Fielder made the last out of the game by grounding into a double play. He was the tying run at the plate, and while he did hit a ground ball up the middle past the pitcher, the A’s defense was properly shifted to take another possible base hit away from Fielder.
These are the kinds of plays that prove that baseball is a game of inches, and that sometimes despite even your best efforts, it still takes a little bit of luck to succeed.
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