You possibly can’t pin the Tampa Bay Rays‘ five-run, sixth-inning rally all on the Houston Astros‘ Jose Altuve. However Altuve’s sudden case of the yips has come to exemplify an American League Championship Sequence wherein the Astros can not seem to catch a break.
Altuve dedicated his fourth throwing error of the postseason and third of the ALCS in the course of the Rays’ decisive rally in a 5-2 victory Tuesday that put Tampa Bay one win away from a pennant-winning sweep of the defending AL champions.
“It was a nightmare inning,” Astros supervisor Dusty Baker stated.
After bouncing two throws to first baseman Yuli Gurriel in Recreation 2 when making the lengthy throw from shallow proper area whereas enjoying in a shift, Altuve’s error Tuesday was on a extra routine play.
With Randy Arozarena on first and no outs to start the Tampa Bay sixth, Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe grounded a ball to Altuve’s left, which he fielded cleanly. However his throw to second base bounced a number of ft in entrance of shortstop Carlos Correa and careened into left area. Michael Brantley backed up the play to forestall additional advance by the baserunners.
Nonetheless, the floodgates had been opened. First, Baker changed starter Jose Urquidy with reliever Enoli Paredes. Then Yandy Diaz singled to load the bases. Joey Wendle singled in a pair of runs. After a sacrifice bunt — the Rays’ first of the 2020 season — Kevin Kiermaier and Willy Adames had been every hit by a pitch, forcing in a 3rd run.
The rally was capped by a two-run double by pinch hitter Hunter Renfroe. As soon as the injury was tallied up, the Astros trailed 5-1. Solely one of many 5 runs was unearned, regardless of Altuve’s error, however the newest miscue from the perennial All-Star loomed giant for the remainder of the competition and into the postgame questioning.
“We’re giving him all of the assist that we are able to,” Baker stated. “No one feels worse than Jose. He takes it very significantly, and he takes it to coronary heart. He is one among ours, and we have all been by this earlier than. Perhaps not within the highlight like this. It hurts us all to see him hurting.”
The sudden onset of the yips — a baseball time period to explain a participant who instantly loses the flexibility to throw the ball the place he needs to — has stricken second basemen infrequently by baseball historical past, with essentially the most well-known examples being Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch. Baker was requested straight if Altuve has the yips.
“I do not know,” Baker stated. “I actually do not know. It’s powerful to see this occurring to such an ideal participant and such an ideal man. I do not know what it’s known as. However you’ll be able to go in a defensive droop the identical means you go in an offensive droop, after which the bodily turns psychological.
“We definitely need to get previous this.”
Altuve, a former Gold Glove winner, didn’t commit a throwing error in the course of the common season. In 47 profession playoff video games earlier than this season, he dedicated only one throwing error. The sudden flip of occasions had postgame queries targeted as a lot on Altuve’s mindset as on what occurred within the recreation.
“Altuve is a superb participant,” Correa stated. “He will be a Corridor of Famer when his profession is completed. These video games have been powerful, however he will bounce again like he is completed earlier than when he is struggled. I believe he will probably be effective.”
Correa added that he thought that though the error on the sixth-inning play went to Altuve, he ought to have been capable of scoop the throw — and he advised Altuve as a lot within the locker room. Correa stated Altuve solely nodded in response. Altuve was not made obtainable throughout postgame entry.
Whereas Altuve’s defensive issues have emerged as a surprising growth throughout Houston’s plunge right into a 3-0 sequence gap, Baker made it clear that he is not about to make any rash modifications in his defensive alignment. Altuve would be the starter at second base in Recreation 4.
“That is definitely,” Baker stated. “[Moving Altuve] is not serving to us, and it might definitely kill him.”