Lorenzo Cain has wheels

And Mike Jirschele is a great third base coach

Lorenzo Cain has serious wheels. I think we knew that before, but scoring from first on a single when he wasn’t even running on the pitch is just astounding. It shouldn’t be possible. But it also shouldn’t surprise you too much, because he’d done it before, a week earlier, against the Astros.

Cain scoring from first on a single against the Astros in the ALDS.

There are a few differences, though —

  • Cain was running on the pitch against the Astros, and had a decent jump. He was most of the way to second base by the time the ball hit the ground. Against the Blue Jays he started from a stop, with nothing but a normal lead from first.
  • Carlos Gómez, the Astros center fielder, fell down, giving Cain the time he needed, despite having a weak turn around third base. Bautista had a bit farther to throw, but fielded the ball cleanly.

Knowing all that makes Cain’s run against the Blue Jays even more incredible. To run 270 feet from first to home on a single from a standing start is just an amazing thing.

Cain does it again, this time in the ALCS.

A lot of credit needs to go to Mike Jerschele, the third base coach, too. He saw Jose Bautista field the ball and throw to second, and just never stopped waving Cain home.

“I knew if I had somebody that could run coming into third base, we were going to go ahead and wheel him,” Jirschele said. “It’s my job to recognize that on a ball like that if he throws to second, and you have somebody who can run, they’re going to have to catch it at second, turn and throw home.”
Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports

For me, the most interesting part of this play is that the Blue Jays did everything right. Bautista fielded the ball well, and made a good throw to second, which was the right place to go. Of course the runner on first is going to stop at third — you just need to make sure that the batter isn’t able to turn a single into a double. But here it failed. Power is great, and power wins plenty of games, but speed is disruptive, and when speed gets you it makes you really question yourself and your decision making.

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