PHOENIX – Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo ranged a step to his right and snagged a hot smash with a smooth, backhanded play, wheeling and firing to first baseman Christian Walker, who stretched for the ball, picked up the short hop and somehow managed to keep his foot on the bag for the first out of the inning.
The D-backs and Texas Rangers have been great with the leather all season long.
So far in the World Series, that trend is continuing.
The D-backs and Rangers combined for zero errors over the first two games of the Fall Classic, which is the first time that's happened since 2018. That's no accident. The two teams made the fewest errors in the big leagues during the regular season and have a combined eight finalists for Gold Glove awards.
“When the defense is playing clean baseball — picking it up and throwing it, hitting cutoffs, all the little things, it's hard to blow an inning open," Walker said. “There are a lot of outs to be made over the course of a game if you keep yourself in position to let that happen.”
Game 3 of the World Series is Monday night in Phoenix with the series tied 1-1. Arizona will start rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt while Texas will counter with veteran righty Max Scherzer.
The Rangers have five Gold Glove finalists this season, including catcher Jonah Heim, first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Corey Seager and right fielder Adolis García, who has one of the best outfield arms in the big leagues.
This is the first World Series since 1993 — and fifth ever — that will feature all of its games on artificial turf, in addition to the 2020 neutral-site championship at Texas' Globe Life Field,
“The pitching is going to come and go at times, hitting will, but one thing we can do is focus on defense every day,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “And I’m proud of these guys. We have five guys that are finalists and a couple, I think, that were left out, to be honest, Josh Jung and (Leody) Taveras. They both have had fine years defensively.”
The D-backs have three Gold Glove finalists — catcher Gabriel Moreno, center fielder Alek Thomas and Walker. Arizona doesn't have a weak spot defensively with at least average glove work at every position. Veteran third baseman Evan Longoria made a leaping catch of a line drive before firing to second for a double play in the first game of the NL Wild Card series against the Brewers, which helped perserve a win and start Arizona on its postseason roll.
Walker actually made a couple of plays in Game 2 that helped the D-backs to a 9-1 win. Heim hit a bouncer down the first-base line that hit the bag and took a wild carom, but Walker snagged it out of the air with his bare hand and flipped to pitcher Merrill Kelly for the out.
Right-handed reliever Ryan Thompson — who was on the mound for Longoria's catch — said having a great defense behind him is something he doesn't take for granted.
“I can pitch in situations where I go for the strikeout, but typically I'm a contact guy by design," Thompson said. “So for me to come in for those spots, not alter my approach and let these guys hit the ball, there's added confidence when you have those guys back there.”
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo says that good defense is part of his team's overall ethos, which is using athleticism in the field and on the basepaths to slowly wear down opponents.
Arizona stole five bases in the first two games of the series, including four in Game 1. They have 21 stolen bases this postseason, three shy of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays for the record.
“My philosophy is I have to manage the team that we have, and it’s always going to be a little bit different,” Lovullo said. “I might have a team in a year or two that can hit three-run home runs and win a different way.
“But in this particular case we have a bunch of speed and guys that love to execute.”
This brand of baseball is near to Lovullo's heart. The former big league infielder in the 1980s and '90s has always been a stickler for the little things that can — and often do — happen in a baseball game. Lovullo joked that he “blacked out” earlier this year when the D-backs had an embarrassing baserunning mishap during a game in August.
“We practice how to tag on rundowns," Lovullo said. "We practice bunt plays. We practice the trick bunt plays. We practice all that stuff because we feel like little things could add up to a big moment and help us win a baseball game.”
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