If a player is going to be injured on the bases, you’d prefer it come from legging out a triple, or barreling into a catcher, or wrapping an arm around a middle infielder on a head-first slide into second base. A perfectly pointless and avoidable rundown between first and second is not at all an occasion worthy of a screwed-up knee, as the Phillies will no doubt discuss following Monday night’s game against the Padres.
In the top of the first inning, Jean Segura popped up weakly on the right side of the infield. Padres second baseman Ian Kinsler, settling under the ball, noticed that Segura, who’d put an ugly swing on the ball and lost his balance after contact, was making no real effort to hustle up the first baseline. An infield popup with a runner on first—in this case Phillies leadoff man Andrew McCutchen—gives the fielder a choice of who to wipe off the bases, but if the hitter isn’t running to first, it’s a tailor-made double play. So Kinsler let the ball drop and made a throw to first, putting McCutchen in a no-win situation. McCutchen engaging in an earnest rundown, instead of just accepting the double play while glaring angrily at his teammate, makes what happened all the more painful:
Baseball’s infield fly rule only applies when there are runners on first and second (or first, second, and third), in part because in most cases with only a runner on first letting a popup drop will just get the one out. Only Segura struggling out of the box put a double play in, uhh, play, and set up this sequence. It’s a smart play by Kinsler, even if the result is extremely shitty.
The Phillies indicated they would not update McCutchen’s condition until after the game, which is not generally something you’d expect them to say ahead of good news. Let’s hope McCutchen’s reward for being trapped between a cheeky infielder and a clumsy teammate isn’t especially severe.
UPDATE: McCutchen is done for the season with a torn ACL. This officially sucks ass.