Sometimes defensive shifts can put a team in a compromising situation and then it’s too late to fix it.
The Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night at Chase Field were a victim of this in a 9-5 win against the Kansas City Royals.
With a 4-3 Royals lead in the second inning, Kansas City right fielder and leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield hit a ground ball to short that required a diving stop from the D-backs’ Geraldo Perdomo. With Merrifield’s speed that allowed him to steal a league-leading 40 bases last year, it was an easy infield single.
From there, Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi was up. After two pickoff attempts to Merrifield on first, he went to steal second with a 1-2 count.
Merrifield beat the throw to second but the play was only just starting because of the D-backs’ extreme shift for the left-handed hitter Benintendi. That shift had D-backs third baseman Drew Ellis on the opposite side of second base to his actual position and no one on the left side of the infield once Perdomo was covering second on the throw.
There were several issues for the D-backs on the play, beginning with the throw to second base getting away from Perdomo and no one covering third base for Ellis. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo clarified after the game it was starting pitcher Zach Davies who is supposed to get to third in that scenario.
Merrifield realized this right away and turned it into a foot race with Davies and Ellis to third base.
The next problem was Perdomo attempting to lob the ball to third, which he did so inaccurately.
Merrifield got up from his second head-first slide in a few seconds to go home and was fortunate that Ellis’ throw there was also not a good one as he improbably scored from first base.
Anything can happen when Whit gets to running!
— Bally Sports Kansas City (@BallySportsKC) May 24, 2022
Perdomo’s throw actually got a good bounce off the fence in front of the D-backs dugout and nearly let Ellis bail Arizona out.
“I saw us not execute very well and we don’t do that very often here,” Lovullo said. “We pride ourselves on getting in the right place at the right time. … Unfortunately we didn’t execute and we had a chance to but we didn’t.”
Merrifield was given a stolen base for second and errors were assigned to both Perdomo and Ellis.