"You Be the Coach"

The Situation - "The Foul Pop in the Dome"

It's the Boston Red Sox versus the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome in Seattle.

The score is tied 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning with one out. Darren Lewis is on first base and Damon Buford is on third base. Mike Benjamin is the hitter and Donnie Sadler is on deck. Benjamin swings at the 1-0 pitch and hits a high fly ball down the left field line in foul territory, about 90 feet beyond third base. Third baseman Russ Davis and shortstop Alex Rodriguez are chasing the pop fly. Lewis is tagging up at first base and Buford at third base. Rodriguez catches the ball facing toward the infield.

The Question

You be the coach. Third base coaches - get your thinking caps on! Depending on Rodriguez's actions, what do you tell Buford to do? As a bonus, what should Lewis be looking for and what should his actions be? As always, keep in mind the setting, the players involved, and the time in the game.

Give me your answer and any supporting reasons.

Here's WK's answer:

"As Buford tags up, you tell him that if Rodriguez throws to second base, he should take off for home. Lewis, who should be bluffing toward second base, will stop and go back to first base if Rodriguez throws to second. You have a good chance to steal a run.

If Rodriguez throws home, you tell Buford to stay at third base. Lewis should be moving into second base. Now you have two men in scoring position. That is agressive Red Sox baseball!"

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

"I would tell Buford to bluff from third trying to draw the throw home. Lewis should watch to see if the bluff works while coming off the bag at first (after the catch of course). If the throw goes home, he takes second. There isn't a cut off man in this situation so if the throw comes to second, Lewis will retreat to first and Buford can score. After the tag, Buford should be able to get down the line far enough to score if the throw goes to second and to get back to third if it comes into home. More than likely, the throw will come home if the bluff works and Lewis can take second. I figure that Rodriguez has a strong throwing arm especially with the runner having to start from a stand still and catching the ball facing the infield. Unless the pitcher covers third, Buford can bluff and come back to the bag if he has to. More likely the pitcher will back up home. Being the third base coach, I would tell Buford to go if I saw the ball go to second. Even though the odds of a hit with two out and runners on first and second are slim, that situation would be better than a double play and the inning over."

Herb Alderson - Odon, IN

"Scenario A: If the pitcher does not cover third, we can send Buford to bluff toward the plate and Lewis (the runner from first) to second. If the throw goes to the plate, we advance the runner from first to second. If the throw goes to second, the runner advancing from first retreats and we easily score from third.

The problem for Seattle in the King Dome is that the noise will become a factor for both the fielders and for us to call back Buford on a throw to the plate. Once Rodriguez commits to throw to the plate, we must rely on the on deck hitter, Donnie Sadler, to wave Buford back to third.

Scenario B: If the pitcher comes to the cut off area between third and home, we may end up having Buford held at third and Lewis thrown out at second by the pitcher for the third out of the inning. We must draw the throw to second and have Lewis retreat, so Buford can score on the throw to second. Their problem will be for the pitcher to hear the call in the dome to make the throw to second. If we draw the throw to the plate, can they cut the ball off and make the throw to second in time to catch Lewis? My guess is a pitcher at the major league level should be smart enough to make this play without any help from the other players calling to him.

Answer: If the pitcher covers, try to draw the throw to the plate, send Lewis from first and have him read the throw from Rodriguez. If Rodriguez overthrows the cutoff, continue to second, otherwise return to first. If the pitcher fails to cover, we have second base, or we score when Rodriguez throws to second on Lewis' run to second."

Jack Wright

"I think that despite Buford's speed and Sadler's struggles at the plate, you still have to hold Buford at third if only because Rodriguez is facing the infield. However, because the 3rd baseman and shortstop are out of position, there are likely no cut-off men. Therefore each runner should tag up and perhaps make Rodriguez commit to making a play at one base or the other. If the pitcher fails to cover third, then Buford can get a good lead off of third and if he draws a throw, Lewis could take a shot at second, or maybe a rundown could take place. You want to try something, with Sadler having little chance of getting the run home."

Doug Schofield

"I would have Buford tag and stand nonchalantly on the bag. As soon as Rodriguez takes a look at Buford, I would act like I was sending Buford. Buford would put his head down, and take three or four, quick steps faking a trip home. This is going to accomplish one of two possibilities.

Mark W. Buffington

"No brainer, Wendell. Definitely send Buford. He's got good speed and it will take a strike from Rodriguez to get him. ARod might do it, but with Sadler up next you need to take the chance. Lewis should tag and go for second, because the play will be at the plate. If it is cutoff, he should make sure Buford scores before there's a play on him at second base (he may need to get in a run down)."

Walt Cheever

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

Good luck until next time!

All my best,


That's it for "The Foul Pop in the Dome".

Updated April 22, 1998