In the bottom of the eighth against the Mariners on Friday, Angels first baseman Justin Bour popped a ball up over the infield on the same pitch that his teammate, Brian Goodwin, had tried to steal second. Bour assumed that the pop-up would result in an easy out and started walking to the dugout straight from the batter’s box before the ball had even fallen into the glove of an opposing player. Because Goodwin had also assumed the play would result in a routine fly-out, he returned to first base. Mariners’ infielder Dee Gordon noticed this and shouted at Ryon Healy to let the ball drop so that they could turn the double-play. The nonchalance with which they pulled it off was both hilarious and humiliating, and, worst of all, it ended the inning.
Bour took full responsibility for his mistake after the game—not that he really had much of a choice—and told reporters, “Honestly there’s really no excuse for it. It’s embarrassing. That’s something you’re taught from the day you start playing baseball. There’s no excuse for it. That can never happen again.”
Manager Brad Ausmus was even pretty understanding of what had happened. Sure, he wasn’t happy, but he expressed confidence in Bour to know that what he did was stupid, according to the OC Register.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he hadn’t spoken to Bour about the play, and didn’t think he needed to.
“That’s the type of thing you don’t even have to explain,” Ausmus said. “It’ll never happen again in his career. It was just an extreme mental error that once it happens, it never occurs (again).”
Ausmus added: “You learn that one early on in Little League.”
There’s obviously not much a manager is usually willing to say to the media when it comes to a player going braindead in these situations, but Ausmus’s response still felt a little subdued given that this was Bour’s second notably boneheaded move in a week. Just last Saturday, the Angel made his way into a Cubs highlight reel when, after being called safe at second, he started walking to the dugout because he felt he got tagged before sliding in. He was officially declared out when he was tagged on his walk back. Replays would later show that Bour probably would have probably been called out after a second look, but from a competitive standpoint it’s never great to just give an opponent a free out.
But Bour’s head-scratching decision looked worse on Friday than it did against the Cubs. The pop-up came late against a division rival in a game his team would eventually lose—whereas the Angels wound up beating the Cubs 6-5—and it happened shortly after Mike Trout had absolutely crushed one into center field and flipped his bat to celebrate tying the game up at 3-3.
If this season ends up as disappointing as the last few have been for the Angels, then this play will serve as an excellent metaphor of the recent history of this franchise—with Trout doing everything he can to help his team win, and his teammates doing everything they can to screw it up.