Bench coach Wallach designed unusual shift
SAN DIEGO -- Bench coach Tim Wallach is the creator of the bizarre defensive alignment the Dodgers used with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning Friday night that featured four defenders equal distance apart between first base and second base.
Wallach said the deployment was a combination of a five-man infield and the exaggerated defensive shift the team deploys against dead-pull left-handed hitters like San Diego's Seth Smith. Andre Ethier became the fifth infielder, brought in from center field to stand closest to first base.
Smith bounced to second baseman Dee Gordon, whose off-target throw home was somehow back-handed on a bounce by catcher A.J. Ellis for the force out at the plate, but Ellis had no chance at completing an inning-ending double play because of the throw and the Padres then won the game on Yasmani Grandal's walk-off single that followed. Gordon said because of where he was when he fielded the ball, his throw almost hit pitcher Kevin Correia.
"I started thinking about it the previous at-bat," said Wallach, who left third baseman Justin Turner in his normal spot with the rest of the left side of the infield unprotected. "I thought it for sure was the right thing to do for Smith. Almost every ground ball he hits to the right side."
Wallach said the Dodgers have used the shift more this year because of the availability of "better information," but he prefers not to use it with runners in scoring position, because if the ball is hit into a hole, "it can really do damage.
"Plus, you're putting guys in uncomfortable positions to turn double plays. We practice it in Spring Training, but it can be awkward. You just try to be careful not to overlap each other, because they are starting the play closer to each other than normal."