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10/20/09 1:00 AM ET

Second base scene of critical plays

Pivotal playoff moments occurring up the middle

What is on second.

That much we know.

What caused the ball to stick in Dodgers second baseman Ronnie Belliard's glove when he tried to turn the pivot on a tailor-made double play in Monday's game against the Phillies.

What caused Bobby Abreu to stray too far from second and get tagged by first baseman Mark Teixeira on a wild 8-6-3 putout Monday against the Yankees.

"You can't worry about it," Torii Hunter said of his veteran teammate's baserunning gaffe on that play. "It wouldn't make or break us. It was still 4-4 and you have to battle. It's baseball. Anything can happen at any time."

What caused Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis to throw wildly to Erick Aybar covering second, allowing Jerry Hairston Jr. to score the winning run in the 13th inning of Game 2.

What is on second.

That much we know.

What caused second base to elude the foot of Aybar during the 10th inning of Game 2, as he tried to execute your average "neighborhood" play after taking the assist from Izturis.

What caused second-base umpire Jerry Layne to call Melky Cabrera safe and the Angels to dispute a play that was clearly though bizarrely correct.

What caused Phillies All-Star second baseman Chase Utley to make a throwing error on a double-play pivot in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium? It was an Andre Ethier grounder to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who fed Utley, whose error allowed Russell Martin to score and then set the stage for Manny Ramirez's two-run homer. Philly survived it.

What caused Utley to do it again in Game 2, this time costing Philadelphia the game? The Dodgers would have had a runner on third with two outs and the Phillies protecting a one-run lead, possibly keeping Pedro Martinez's scoreless gem intact. Utley's throw allowed Juan Pierre to score the tying run, and LA was able to tie the series.

What caused a guy like Utley to explain in a crowded Phillies clubhouse: "It was just a bad throw."

What is on second.

That much we know.

What caused two errors by Robinson "Ninja" Cano off swings of Aybar's bat during that instant-classic ALCS Game 2 on Saturday. One came in the top of the seventh, and the other came in the top of the 13th. Neither proved costly to the Yankees, but still you want to know.

What caused Derek Jeter to look up into all those raindrops in the 12th inning of Game 2 and finally find the ball after being driven by the wind from the shortstop hole all the way over near the bag.

What caused Jeter to make an error four innings before, when the score was tied at 2. An Izturis grounder came up high on the heel of Jeter's glove, bouncing off his hand and leg, allowing pinch-runner Reggie Willits to take second and leaving Izturis safe at first. It didn't cost the Yankees, but it still was Jeter's first postseason error since Game 2 of the 2006 ALDS against Detroit. That's rare.

What caused Jeff Mathis, of all people, to reach second base with a walk-off double and give the Angels a 5-4 victory in 11 innings on Monday.

What was the reason Mathis was even there in the first place, rather than exiting for a pinch-runner after his previous hit.

"Obviously it's the biggest hit of my life," Mathis said later. "I mean, to come through, and for Howie (Kendrick) to have the at bat he did right there and get on base and put one in the gap and score to win the game, it's a pretty good feeling."

What made Fred Merkle stop running to second base and go straight to the clubhouse in that Cubs-Giants game 101 years ago, resulting in an infamous play known as "Merkle's Boner." What allowed Ozzie Smith to dive face-down for a smash up the middle on one typical summer day, only to have the ball take a high hop and then be miraculously plucked out of the air by The Wizard for an assist that set him apart.

What is on second.

Just ask Carlos Gomez of the Twins. In Game 2 of the AL Division Series loss to the Yankees, he cost Minnesota a run in the fourth on Matt Tolbert's apparent RBI single with two outs. As Delmon Young was racing around third toward the plate, Gomez apparently slipped as he rounded second. Nick Swisher's throw to shortstop Derek Jeter nabbed Gomez for the third out before Young could score.

After the setback, Gomez said he tried to stop himself rounding second but slipped in the process. He thought the Yankees would be throwing to third, so he tried to get back to second base.

"Everybody knows what I do. I don't put an excuse about it," Gomez said. "I make a bad mistake. That's it."

What was on second that day.

What has always been on second.

We are reminded of that in this postseason.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.