"You Be the Coach"

The Situation - "The Bluff"

Baltimore Orioles versus Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park

It is the bottom of the seventh inning and the Red Sox are leading 3-2 with one out. Darren Lewis is on third base and John Valentin is the hitter. Valentin hits a pop fly into short centerfield. Baltimore shortstop Mike Bordick sprints into the outfield to attempt to catch the ball. His back is to the infield and he is the only player with a chance to catch the ball.

The Question

Third base coaches - get your thinking caps on! What do you tell Darren Lewis to do? Would you tell D-Lew to go half way or to tag up? Be sure to give me your supporting reasons for your decision.

Here's WK's answer:

" I would tell Darren Lewis to tag up and go when Bordick catches the ball. My reasoning:

  1. Mike Bordick is facing away from home plate.
  2. Making a catch and throw in that position is very difficult for any infielder.
  3. If Bordick drops the ball, then Darren can still score on the play."

Here are some good answers from various coaches on the internet.

"Lewis has to be tagging on the play. He will score if Bordick does not catch the ball whether he is tagging or not. He will also be able to do a number of things if Bordick does catch the ball:

Tagging put pressure on the defense and could make something good happen for Lewis' team."

Guy Simmons

"Thinking this one out, Coach, I'd tell him to tag and not go halfway home. If he goes halfway home and the ball is caught, he MUST come back and there is no chance for him to score. If we were tied or trailing in the 9th, or if there were no outs, it might be a different story. In those circumstances, I might send him halfway, but not with one out in the 7th with a one-run lead at home. If Mike Bordick doesn't catch the ball, you still have the option to send Darren after the drop and he should score easily, even if he tags. Remember, Mike is looking away, and a banjo hit will usually take a bounce or two on the grass before the fielder can get to it. It's not an easy play. Plus, Mike has to wheel around to make the throw, even if he catches the ball.

Actually, this sets up an interesting scenario at FIRST base -- if I were the first base coach, I'd have Johnny wheel toward second. If Mike drops the ball, he may opt for the easy out at second and not even throw home, and you'd get the run over. If Mike didn't catch the ball and opted to throw home, and managed to throw Darren out at the plate (assuming you sent him), the worst case is you have Valentin in scoring position with two out. If Mike Bordick DOES catch the ball, it would be the coach's judgement as to whether to send Darren. Can Mike make the throw home? Does he have a bad angle? Did he fall on the grass in catching it?"

Greg Caliri

"There is no reason not to tag on this one. If the ball falls, Lewis will score without difficulty. If it is caught, Lewis is fast and has a pretty good chance of beating the throw to the plate since Bordick is heading away from the play. I don't like going halfway here despite it being a relatively short throw as I don't think it buys much and elminates the chance to tag and score should Bordick have to dive to catch the ball or if he should stumble after making the catch. With a slower runner on third, I might go halfway, but I doubt it."

Rick Donnelly

"I would tell Lewis to tag up because if Bordick catches the ball, he has to turn all the way around and make a perfect throw to nail him at the plate. If he doesn't catch it, then Lewis would score easily. You want to make them think you are going to tag up at third base. Try to make something happen."

Robin Johnson

"I would have him tag up and be ready to score. If the catch is a difficult one and is taking the shortstop away from the infield, it will take a perfect throw to catch the runner. If the ball should drop, the runner will probably score anyway. If the runner can't score the worst, you will be left with are runners on first and third."


Thanks for answering my situation. Be sure to include your name and where you are from with each response.

That's it for "The Bluff".

Good luck until next time!

All my best,


Updated April 12, 1999