SoSH Glossary: Guarding the Lines

SoSH Baseball Glossary

Baseball is filled with statistics, rules, and archaic terms that can often form what sounds like a foreign language.The Sons of Sam Horn glossary provides a better understanding of these terms through straightforward definitions, clear explanations, and examples pulled straight from the baseball world. If there is anything you would like us to add to our glossary, please contact us.

Guarding the lines is a strategy used typically in the late innings of a close ballgame. The first (and/or third) baseman is directed to shift closer to the foul line – in some cases almost to stand on it – in order to defend against a ball pulled down the line which could result in extra bases. The defense is conceding a single in the hole between the first and second basemen (or the third baseman and the shortstop) but stingily preventing a a ball rolling against the tarp, the wall, or any other obstruction.

In the eighth inning in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Boston first baseman Hanley Ramirez is waiting just seven feet from the bag when Coco Crisp rips a ball down the line. Sprawling toward the line, Ramirez’s puts a glove on the ball as it bounds past him:

Ramirez was able to snag this ball as it rockets past him. Had he not fielded it cleanly, Crisp would have been off to the races – at least two bases. Maybe three? Instead, the conservative defense results in an out, and the end of the inning.

Guarding the lines is also used from time to time as a defensive strategy early in the game, but it is primarily employed after the sixth inning. It is also more frequently used against pull hitters, as indicated by the spray charts from scouts which each team studies before a series.

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About David R. McCullough 87 Articles
David R. McCullough is founding editor of SoSH Baseball. He has a B.A. in journalism from Antioch College, where the lack of a football team is proudly proclaimed on shirts sold in the bookstore, and might someday finish his M.A. at Boston University. He lives in the Boston area with a toddler and a very understanding, patient wife.

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