The Astros Out That Wasn't an Out
Sometimes, an odd play is the big story itself. That's never been more true than Wednesday night in Houston, where Astros Manager Cecil Cooper was at fault for an out by Kazuo Matsui ... despite Matsui never even stepping into the batter's box.
After habitually using Matsui, Houston's second baseman, in the leadoff spot, Cooper decided to try and give his lineup a jolt by flip-flopping the Japanese infielder with the No. 2 man in the lineup, outfielder Michael Bourn. True to his instructions, Bourn ambled up to the plate in the bottom of the first to face Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo. During the course of the at-bat, Bourn drilled a single to get the Astros off to a strong start ... except the hit didn't stand. Bourn was immediately called back to the plate and Matsui was called out.
Why? Because Cooper had filled out his team's lineup card incorrectly, going through the motions by putting Matsui first and Bourn second, Matsui was immediately out as soon as Bourn completed the first at-bat. That meant that Bourn had to bat again, with Matsui technically ruled a put-out by catcher Jason Kendall.
Amazingly, in this case it still didn't keep Bourn from doing his job -- he earned a walk in his second time up in the first inning, eventually scoring on a double by (who else?) Lance Berkman. As the game moved on Matsui was forced to bat in the leadoff spot, with Bourn hitting back at No. 2 again, regardless of Cooper's plans.
Of course, this is the second time this week that a manager has made a pretty stunning mental gaffe, following the lead of Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon, who penciled in two third basemen on Sunday, losing use of the designated hitter as a result. And, just as Cooper wriggled off the hook to an extent when Bourn scored, Maddon's move was mitigated by the batting success of Andy Sonnanstine, who doubled in a run.
Naturally, that begs a pretty unique question: Which managerial move was a dumber mistake: Cooper forgetting his own grand batting plan, or Maddon double-listing a corner infielder? And when was the last time a manager made either of those mistakes, let alone two coaches serving up the gaffes in the same week? Anyone remember?
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