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#pounditSunday, July 21, 2024

Cubs’ 3rd base coach commits big blunder in loss to Reds

The Chicago Cubs third base coach sending a runner

A deranged send by Chicago Cubs third base coach Willie Harris did not end up paying dividends on Friday.

The Cubs were trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth against the Cincinnati Reds but had runners at the corners with just one out and outfielder Seiya Suzuki up to bat. Suzuki shot a 2-1 pitch by Reds closer Alexis Diaz into deep left field, wich easily scored Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Cubs’ runner at third.

But things went off the rails when Harris decided to send Nick Madrigal, the runner who started at first base, to the plate as well. Reds left fielder Jacob Hurtubise reached the ball quickly and got the relay throw into shortstop Elly De La Cruz, the cutoff man. De La Cruz responded by firing a guided heat missile to the plate to easily nail Madrigal and preserve a narrow 5-4 lead for the Reds.

The optics of that send by Harris could not have been much worse. Madrigal only has average speed, and even a mediocre throw might have been enough to get him there (as he was out by a good 15 feet). But the triggerman was De La Cruz, who already has a lengthy highlight reel of cannonball throws. De La Cruz was always going to be the cutoff man too for a ball hit to the left-field line (with the third baseman still covering the bag), and the result of trying to run on him there was about what you would expect.

On top of that, the Cubs only had one out at the time and had Cody Bellinger up at the plate next (meaning that even a deep Bellinger fly ball would have been enough to tie the game at 5). Had the Reds opted to walk Bellinger, the next guy up would have been Christopher Morel, another strong power bat.

Instead however with two outs, Bellinger went on to fly out to right field, sealing the 5-4 victory for the Reds. Harris even admitted to reporters after the game that he had goofed up with that send.

Gutsy sends by third base coaches are sometimes required, but they can sometimes backfire just as easily (as we have seen before in the MLB postseason). For Harris, it definitely looks like he could have read the situation much better there.

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