Thank goodness we have such knowledgeable baseball commentators to offer great nuggets of wisdom such as these:
Bad move by Jhonny Peralta hitting that home run. Killed the rally. Next three Tigers make outs. 3-3 after five innings.
— (16) Jesse Specolorado (@jessespector) October 8, 2013
Otherwise, how would I have known the pitcher who gave up a bomb just regained his composure and confidence? Baseball fans would have gone on believing home runs were great offensive plays because, well they guarantee at least one run, and in the case of a rally, presumably more.
Steve Lyons and Jesse Spector aren’t alone. Other astute baseball analysts understand what a bad play the home run can be. Former closer and current MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams weighs in:
"The biggest rally killer in the world is a home run." – Mitch Williams
— Heard on MLB Tonight (@HeardOnMLBT) October 14, 2013
And here I was thinking double plays killed rallies. I guess I was wrong. I’m glad MLB Network has former professional players who can offer such profound insights into this game. As someone who played only as far as college ball, I never would have picked up on a subtlety like this.
With this newly discovered knowledge, I now offer you an analysis of some terrible rally killing playoff home runs.
With the Boston Red Sox slowly building momentum in the eighth inning, closer Joaquin Benoit decided to stop the rally in its tracks. He offered up a splitter that David Ortiz deposited into the bullpen in right field. Sure enough, the rally would go no further, as Benoit promptly struck out Mike Napoli to end the inning.
Sure, Dennis Eckersley was really good. But he wasn’t quite as good with runners on. Knowing his numbers were worse with men on base, and with the pesky Mike Davis on first, Eck hung a backdoor slider to Kirk Gibson in the bottom of the ninth inning in game one of the 1988 World Series. Sure that would cost the Oakland Athletics the game, but Eck used the mind-clearing experience to propel himself to a scoreless inning in game four.
Mitch Williams himself knew what he was doing here. In the bottom of the ninth in game six of the 1993 World Series, he had surrendered a walk and a single, with a flyball sandwiched in between. Needing to clear the bases to regain his composure, he offered up a meatball to Joe Carter. The rest is history.
Before I learned about the rally killing nature of home runs, I thought these were great plays for the offense. Thanks to Steve Lyons, Jesse Spector and Mitch Williams, I know better.