Astros look to clean up running game
Players thrown out in four incidences in Friday night's win
PITTSBURGH -- As a media member quipped to manager Cecil Cooper three hours before Saturday night's game against the Pirates, the Astros pulled off a dubious baserunning blunder "cycle" on Friday night at PNC Park.Houston had a runner thrown out at home plate, third and second, and in a rundown between first and second (but closer to first). Cooper laughed -- but only because the Astros won the contest. Had his team lost its eighth consecutive game, he might not have been in the mood for such humor. "We did all of the bases," Cooper said, smiling. "You're right, we went through them all. We're fortunate we won the game. We had enough run support and all that, and we won the game. But what if we were down? Now all of sudden ... I might still be mad. I might be still walking around here stomping and mad." As it was, winning cured everything. But that doesn't mean the Astros don't want to clean up some of the sloppiness they have shown over the past week on the basepaths. The latest examples, from Friday: Michael Bourn was tagged as the third out of the second inning in a rundown after singling in Edwin Maysonet from second. (It appeared Maysonet would have scored easily on the throw if it went home.) An inning later, Miguel Tejada was thrown out at second attempting to tag up on a Lance Berkman flyout to center. In the sixth, Hunter Pence was tagged out after a Jeff Keppinger single when he rounded too far around third and returned to the bag too late. Later that inning, Maysonet was thrown out at home trying to score from second on single by Bourn. "It's just been crazy stuff that's happened," Cooper said. "We need to do a better job than that, because these things can cost you. And it looks bad. When you're not playing well and things like that happen, it looks bad. We need to do a better job paying attention to detail." Cooper stressed that players on the basepaths have a great deal of information to process -- how hard a ball is hit, what arm strength an outfielder might have, how good of a throw he gets off, to what base he is throwing, where the cutoff man is, how fast any other runners on the basepaths are, what the base coaches are telling them and so on -- and they must process it quickly and make an informed decision. Cooper isn't against being aggressive, per se, and that's what Tejada said he was trying for when he was thrown out: being aggressive and trying to make something happen. "I told everybody, 'We've got to make something happen,' " Tejada said. "You can never be afraid to make an error in this game. If I make an error trying to go to second yesterday, I'm making an error to try to make something happen for my team."
Chris Adamski is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.