Defensive shifts are now a regular thing in baseball. Seeing the second baseman playing in the right field grass and the shortstop on the right side of the infield is nothing new. However, last night the Los Angeles Dodgers deployed the king of all shifts. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the twelfth against the San Diego Padres, baseball was given one of the weirdest plays ever.
The Dodgers used a five man infield with Abraham Almonte at the plate. Almonte walked and the bases were now loaded for notorious pull hitter Seth Smith. What happened next, may be a first in baseball – and to make it all the more special, Vin Scully called it. The Dodgers maintained their five man infield, but — four of the five infielders stayed on the right side of the infield.
Andre Ethier was on first. Several paces to his right was Adrian Gonzalez. Right beside Gonzalez was Dee Gordon. A couple of yards beside Gordon was Miguel Rojas. Like a soccer defense, the four players stood in a line on each others toes, essentially. The play was made by bench coach Tim Wallach, and Los Angeles has even practiced it in spring training. Practice makes perfect is what they say, and the same holds true for the Dodgers’ inventive shift.
While the shift didn’t completely go to plan, it was still very effective. Smith, as expected, rolled over the ball and grounded out to Gordon. He made a quick throw home to force the runner, but A.J. Ellis couldn’t quite complete the double play. In the end, Yasmani Grandal walked things off for the Padres and hence the Dodgers lost.
The game won’t, however, be remembered for the Padres’ walkoff win. The weirdest, and most brilliant shift you’ve ever seen is why it will be remembered. Granted, it is very hard to imagine — so; here’s a video of the shift itself. Feast your eyes upon this beauty. It doesn’t get old.
Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers