Game 1 of the World Series is over and the Washington Nationals have a big win under their belt, though it didn’t come without some major drama.
A close game got even closer in the eighth inning when George Springer hit what looked like a home run, then turned out to be a double against Daniel Hudson to score Kyle Tucker from second base and cut the Nationals’ lead to 5-4.
Second base was as far as Springer reached in that inning though, as he was stranded on lineouts from Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley. The Astros went down in order an inning later to drop the series opener.
While a big boost for his team’s chances, Springer’s RBI double also presented an awkward question. It’s not often you hear this asked about a player who accounted for half his team’s RBIs on separate hits, but could Springer have done more? Like, say tie the game?
It seems possible, though the player denied it after the game.
George Springer didn’t exactly run to first base
Plenty of people at Minute Maid Park seemed to think Springer had just hit a game-tying homer as the ball soared through the air. One of those people was Springer, who basically galloped to first base rather than run while watching where the ball landed.
That’s significant because, well, Springer ended up on second base despite the ball hanging in the air, getting mishandled by a jumping Adam Eaton, having to get run down by Victor Robles and thrown into the infield. It took nearly 12 seconds from when Springer made contact for the ball to make it to shortstop Trea Turner at second base.
Springer is not a slow player, so many wondered if he could have gotten a triple just by hustling out of the box. It’s not the first time such a question has come up this postseason. Had Springer reached third, he could have possibly scored an Altuve’s lineout a batter later.
Springer addressed the matter after the game, saying he would have ”for sure” been out of third if he tried for a triple and he might have passed Tucker on the basepaths.
George Springer on his eighth-inning double: “I don’t want to necessarily run as fast as I can because, for some reason, if he tags or whatever the case and I run by him, it’s not good. I was watching the outfielder”
“If I had gone to third, I’m out. I'm out for sure"
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) October 23, 2019
Of course, that’s not exactly the question we’re dealing with here. Springer would have definitely been thrown out if he had gone for a triple, what we want to know is what would have happened had he just run out of the box on contact.
It’s impossible to truly know that, but there are reasons to give Springer the benefit of the doubt. First, the announcers noted that Tucker held up at second base until the ball landed, so Springer might have been blocked from reaching third even if he sprinted out of the box.
Also significant is that “nearly 12 seconds” isn’t the time of an easy triple. It’s the time of a Mike Trout triple. Had Tucker not been an obstacle and had Robles gotten the ball in quicker (Springer had little way of knowing Robles needed to run down the ball), Springer might have been in trouble.
It’s tempting to say that Springer — who had already done plenty for the Astros — should have easily been on third, but there was enough in his way that you just can’t know for certain.
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