ANAHEIM — White Sox center fielder Luis Robert made an amusing, yet painful and ultimately costly gaffe in the third inning of Saturday’s game against the Angels, as he attempted to catch a shallow fly ball off the bat of Anthony Rendon, only for it to bounce off his head for a run-scoring error.
Fortunately, Robert was fine physically and even drove in a run the next inning with an RBI single to tie the game. But the play did end up costing the White Sox two runs in the frame, and came in an eventual 5-3 loss that saw the Angels score three times in the eighth. It was a memorable miscue for all the wrong reasons, as the ball bounced dramatically off his head and there were also two outs in the third, so a catch would’ve ended the threat.
Shortstop Tim Anderson originally backpedaled in an attempt to make the catch, but Robert ran 134 feet from his spot in the outfield, appearing to call Anderson off and getting in position to make the routine play. The play had a 95 percent catch probability, per Statcast. White Sox manager Tony La Russa, though, thought Robert might’ve had trouble with the twilight sky at Angel Stadium.
“I think that happens, before it really gets dark, it happens all over the league,” La Russa said. “I think the one today between Tim and Luis, [Luis] is playing deep, had a long way to run. He’s a Gold Glover, he must have had to run 200 yards to get there, I’m exaggerating, but it was a long way. During twilight, it’s hard anywhere.”
Robert’s miscue wasn’t the end of the craziness, however. Right fielder Adam Eaton snatched the ball and attempted to nab David Fletcher as he sprinted towards home all the way from first, but the throw was off target and caromed off the mound, ricocheting to the backstop. Rendon advanced to second base on the error and Jared Walsh followed with an RBI single to score Rendon, giving right-hander Lance Lynn two unearned runs in the inning.
Lynn, though, said it’s just part of the game and he wasn’t frustrated with Robert.
“Your job is to pick the guys up,” Lynn said. “They pick you up when you have bad games, score runs for you and make great plays for you. This game is nasty. So, there’s no blame, no anything, you’re all about making the next pitch, and that’s the truth of the matter. You can’t worry about what happened before, because it doesn’t matter, and you’ve got to make the next pitch. Unfortunately, I made a mistake to the next hitter, and he was able to shoot one through the six-hole there. But I need to make my pitch, and I need to get us out of that. That’s my job.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon was impressed by Fletcher’s instincts to score all the way from first and noted that the play was another reason why putting the ball in play is better than a strikeout.
“How about the baserunner scoring on it?” Maddon said. “When David came in, I told him that not everybody scores on that. I wanted him to know that. So, I want to give him credit, too. And yeah, move the ball, move the ball. ‘Make the defense execute, so they may execute themselves.’ — Coach Ed Morgan. Hazleton High School, 1972.”