You might think that Sunday was just another Spring Training game for the Phillies. While most of us were engrossed in the amazing, fantastic, you-should-be-watching-every-second World Baseball Classic, major leaguers gathered to continue preparing themselves for the coming grind of the regular season. In Clearwater especially, fans probably thought they would just pass the time watching Aaron Nola round into form, perhaps catch a foul ball or two, all while not being the frigid temperatures of the Northeast. Yet fans who paid attention closely witnessed what could be the game-changing ability they’ve only heard of from Roman Quinn. It was subtle, yet its impact showed what a weapon this young man can be.
What I am not referring to is Quinn’s solo home run, although this is a bonus.
He has been said to have enough power to keep offenses honest, but where his game is most impactful is with his legs and he showed why on Sunday.
Look at this sequence. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Phillies were down 4-1 and Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel came in to get his work in for the day. Bryan Holaday walked to lead off, followed by a single by Quinn that sent Holaday to third. So, you have first and third, no outs, team down by 3. Quinn promptly stole second, putting two runners in scoring position with Cesar Hernandez at the plate. Hernandez grounds to the second baseman, plating Holaday and sending Quinn to third.
It’s not guaranteed that that would have resulted in a double play, especially with two of the fastest players on the Phillies directly involved, but because Quinn was able to (fairly easily) steal second, it was not even an option. Phillies down 2, one out and Quinn on third.
In this situation, normally a team would play their infield back and concede the run. At most, the corners would pinch, coming home with the ball if the runner on third breaks on contact. But on the next batter, Howie Kendrick, a groundball to his right forces the first baseman, Matt Dominguez to come home, with nary a chance to get the fleet footed Quinn. (Note: sorry about the video. Clicking on it will show it to you in a new tab)
Tom McCarthy and Ben Davis correctly state two facts. One, Dominguez had no shot at Quinn as he’s simply too fast and required a perfect throw. Two, with Kimbrel not covering first, the only play was to home and even then, they weren’t going to get him. At this point, the Phillies have gotten two runs, only registered one out and Kendrick is on first because the Red Sox elected to try and cut down the run. As a result, Kendrick is able to steal second and scores on Michael Saunders’ base hit with two outs. Tie ballgame.
Yes, this is only a brief glimpse at a meaningless game. Yet for Phillies fans, it’s a very important glimpse because it shows hope. It shows the hope that if Quinn is able to finally stay healthy for an entire season, his speed and baserunning gives them a legitimate threat that teams need to be aware of at all time. Consider:
- Quinn’s steal erased any possibility, as minute as it could have been, of a rally-killing double play.
- His potential to score from third on any non-line drive caused the first baseman to exercise poor judgement with the ball, ending in no outs being recorded and a run being scored.
- Because Kendrick was able to reach base, the team manufactured another run to tie the game, something they might have to do in droves this season.
In some way, shape or form, Roman Quinn was directly responsible for the team scoring three runs in an inning. It’s all perfect case scenario, but it demonstrated what kind of ability the young man has provided his body cooperates with him.