The Giants' Sandoval Can Learn from Nationals' Tyler Moore
But, it's not the total team-aspect in this case. It can be broken down to two specific instances and players.
Many thought the Cardinals were on to something in the early innings when Nationals pitcher, Gio Gonzalez did his best Rick Ankiel impersonation. After loading the bases with a barrage of shaky locations towards the plate, the Cardinals pounced, though not completely, and took the early lead.
However, this was not a key moment.
The Nationals' bullpen did their best to keep things close, holding the one-run deficit into the later innings—when the real gut-check occurred.
In that same scenario, the Giants, behind blister-free Santiago Casilla, let their late-inning possibilities slip with terrible pitching in the eighth and subsequent lead stretch. Undoubtedly, the pressure could have been that much more difficult for Chapman, knowing he had only one run to play with—a slight key moment, but still not the biggest for the Giants.
Both teams success came down to two hitters; one taking the proper approach; the other taking his signature approach. The outcomes speak for themselves.
Tyler Moore'spinch-hit blooper in the eighth inning may have not been the sexiest, commercial-making hit ever, but it did the job, giving the Nationals a lead. It was the proper approach to a plate appearance, working the count and seeing pitches, ending with the most important thing: Putting the ball in play.
Because of his wherewithal at the plate, Moore went from a late-year call up to instant hero in one swing. Most importantly, he got his team a win.
Then there are the Giants, and Pablo Sandovall—a total disaster of an approach, and 180, from Moore.
Chapman was anything but solid in the ninth inning, and it didn't look like he would last. After going wild in the first few hitters, he had to face Sandoval with the bases loaded.
Now, it has always been common knowledge, and Sandoval's style, to swing from the belly on the first pitch, but when it comes to the last inning of a playoff game, that just won't do. Sandoval failed to realize his job, unlike the Nationals' Moore, with only one out, the bases loaded and shaky Reds' closer: Work the count. Put the ball in play.
He swung at three straight pitches, clearly showing that he does not have the bat speed required to smack 100 mph over the fence at will. As quickly as the rally began in the ninth for the Giants, it ended behind Sandoval and his inexcusable approach.
Now, because of it, the Giants are in a hole, facing a difficult Reds' club.
Playoff time separates the winners and losers by the smallest of margins. Those that step up usually find themselves, and the team, on the winning end of it.