Sitting here in St. Louis after attending all three Nationals games here at Busch, there are several things I could discuss. Gio Gonzalez taking his second consecutive loss in which he only gave up one run? Ridiculous. My mom is very happy she got to see Bryce Harper’s multi-homer game. She constantly reminds me that Brian Goodwin was “totally robbed” by Tommy Pham in game 1 and that the Nationals were the victims of “straight-up robbery” with that final strike call in game 2.
But I want to talk about Stephen Drew.
Since the loss of Trea Turner (excuse me while I drown in my own tears), shortstop will be filled with some combination of Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo. It was the lefty, Drew, who got the starts against righties Mike Leake and Michael Wacha. And it became clear quite quickly that he was a little unprepared. See below for his double clutch which resulted in one out that really should’ve been two. (He also might have attempted to get the lead runner since Jedd Gyorko is not exactly what you’d label “fast”.)
His game plan for game 2? Follow Tony. Which, if you’re thinking about it, doesn’t seem to be an entirely bad idea. Fangraphs’ Inside Edge fielding data says Tony makes 96 percent of the “routine” plays at third and 85 percent of the “likely” plays. (Both of which are even more fabulous once you take into account his sidearm delivery.) He’s batting .297 with a wRC+ of 146, so Stephen could pick a worse player to emulate.
On Saturday we learned that Stephen Drew’s primary game plan was to “follow Tony.” So, if Anthony Rendon threw himself over a wall, would Stephen Drew follow?
He hobbled when getting up, but ended up okay and stayed in the game. In the inning after that tumble, things got really exciting on the bases.
The Cardinals’ shortstop, Alex Mejia, hit a single to center with two outs. Super basic, runners should be at first and second. Except lead runner, Paul DeJong, tried to test Michael A. Taylor’s arm. That was dumb for a myriad of reasons, namely that the ball was in short center and Taylor’s throw beat him by a couple yards. I can practically hear the broadcasters in my ear shouting, “Never make the first or last out of an inning at third!”
Apparently DeJong didn’t get the memo, but it didn’t work out as poorly for him as you’d expect.
A lot happened with Stephen Drew on that play, so let’s go through it slowly.
First, he just watches Michael A.’s throw to Tony like, “Dang, son, that’s gonna beat him to the bag; he’s out by a mile,” and kind of lazily backtracks toward third, thinking the play is just going to be made in front of him.
Then his “follow Tony” mantra kicks in. His first instinct is to run toward Anthony, regardless of the seventeen other things happening on the field. When Paul DeJong decides to go back toward second, Stephen Drew has an “Oh *#$%” moment when Tony starts running toward second, too.
Drew doesn’t realize what’s happening until Anthony Rendon points toward second base! He got lost in Tony’s glow. (It’s okay Stephen, it happens to the best of us.) But then, as the play continues, Stephen Drew isn’t actually running toward second base. If you watch closely you can see he’s running toward Anthony Rendon, who just happens to be running toward second base.
At the end of the play, both the third baseman and the center fielder end up closer to the bag at second than Stephen Drew, who should’ve been covering it.
Rendon and Michael A. both just turn away from the bag in disbelief.
Then the Cardinals celebrate because one of their patented Baserunning Screwups™ did not result in an out.
Would Stephen Drew follow Anthony Rendon through the gates of Hell? Probably. We know for sure he’d follow him to second base.
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Audrey Stark is a Contributor at Federal Baseball. You can follow her on Twitter @highstarksunday.