Smoke Signals: Clichés, Delays and Santana’s Defensive Ways

CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The players converged, the fireworks fired off, and the 27th out had been made. The Indians topped the Reds, 3-2.

Then clichés rained down harder on the home team and their crowd than the precipitation that delayed the game for 121 minutes.

Forever a “game of inches,” a gorgeous 3-6-3 double play was turned by Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor to end the game was reviewed, showing speedster Billy Hamilton was indeed safe at the bag by a fraction of a second.

Despite the first angle of replay being as conclusive as any close play in baseball can be, the replay took an unnecessary two-minutes and 57 seconds. Cody Allen continued to throw warmup pitches, but between the two hours of rain delay time and the near-three minute review, he was put in a tougher spot than he had already created for himself.

“That was something we were kind of talking about,” Manager Terry Francona said. “It’s kind of hard once you think the game’s over, you kind of let your emotion go. If there’s anybody that I would trust to reel it back in, it’s Cody. But I think that is a tough one. On one hand, there was time, because it took him awhile, but it’s hard on anybody, I think Cody probably the hardest.”

Allen was unwilling to say that the delay changed the game, but did admit that it was something that caused him to have to adjust.

“Obviously you think it’s over right there, but once they challenge it you’ve kind of got to take a step back and get ready just in case, and I was ready,” he said. “I’m not going to say Zack Cosart got a hit because of that. He hit a pretty good pitch. That’s part of baseball.

“Up until we saw it, I thought he was out. I mean a guy like that is going to make any play close. But they got the call right, he was safe. That’s why the rule is there. If that was us on the other side, we would want that.”

Carlos’s New Tool

The double-play to end the game that was not ended up being just a forgotten piece of the performance Carlos Santana turned in on Wednesday. Driving in the team’s only three runs on three extra-base hits, Santana also added more clips to his growing defensive highlight reel.

Twice in the contest, Santana wheeled on a sacrifice bunt to throw out the lead runner, first on a bunt from Hamilton in the 7th, then on a Jose Peraza bunt attempt in the 9th.

He did make an error on a routine grounder in the 5th, but the throwing plays have become commonplace with Santana playing at first base, and Francona says the converted catcher’s willingness to even try to make a play is part of what makes him so good.

“Everybody has different skill sets. Some guys are really good catching the ball, some guys are tentative to throw. Sometimes that’s why they’re at first,” the manager said. “Carlos’ arm has never been in question. But his ability, I think he’s playing with some confidence, maybe more than he used to, because you have to have that to even attempt to make a play.”

Santana has begun to make those plays habitual, potentially limiting the opposition’s ability to play small ball, at least down the first-base line. The 31-year old says that despite how seldom the opportunity presents itself, he will be ready.

“I’m prepared. I prepare for every situation,” he said. “That’s why I come early to the field and prepare and take ground balls. For that, for that situation. It’s really important for me and all the infielders, and we’re prepared for whatever situation in the game.”

His manager was willing to dwell on the play that he didn’t complete, technically speaking, because of what it took to even make the play close.

“That was as good (of) a potential double play turn as you’re ever going to see,” Francona said. “To have a chance to get him – and it was bang-bang as they get – Carlos was quick, he was accurate, he was strong and then Frankie came flying across. Carlos made a couple, he made an error, but man he was active over there. Charging on the bunt, being aggressive, getting a force out, he was all over the place tonight.”

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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