Jonathan Lucroy of the Oakland Athletics has been a major-leaguer for eight seasons and counting. He’s made two All-Star teams, gotten more than 1,000 hits, and played 949 games at the game’s most physically demanding position, catcher. He’s a pretty good athlete.
He did not have a good night, athletically speaking, on Tuesday.
Here’s the sequence of events that took place in Tuesday’s game with one out and two runners on in the bottom of the 11th inning and the Astros’ Alex Bregman batting.
• Bregman chops a fastball into the dirt near home plate. The ball starts in foul territory but then spins fair.
• Since Bregman thinks he’s hit a foul ball, he’s still standing at the plate. Lucroy picks up the ball and moves to tag Bregman out, but it slips out of his hand and hits home plate umpire David Rackley.
• Lucroy attempts to catch the ball as it bounces off Rackley but bobbles it back into the dirt.
• Lucroy finally gets a clean grip on the ball and fires it toward first to retire Bregman, who by now is running down the first-base line … and the throw hits Bregman in the helmet, bouncing into right field and allowing the Astros’ Kyle Tucker to jog home for the game-winning and game-ending run.
Lucroy, who was charged with one error on the play, described it afterward as “a big mess” and “a big zoo.” Grant Brisbee of SB Nation, doing some back-of-the-envelope math, has calculated that the odds of a foul ball spinning fair, a bare-handed tag failing, and an error being made on a home-to-first throw during a single play are roughly 1 in 500 million. That’s a big zoo indeed!
Even more amazingly, the Astros already won a different game this year on a bizarre extra-innings misplay of a ball hit by Alex Bregman:
Apparently, you simply cannot let Alex Bregman make weak contact on a pitch in extra innings and expect to win!