"Up the middle!"

That was Joe Buck's call when Bill Mueller hit his game-tying, history-changing single off Mariano Rivera in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.

Last night, the Astros made their final out when Gurriel drilled a grounder up the middle. It went right through the box past Snell, but it was fielded easily behind second for the out.

It seems to me that once upon a time a hard-hit grounder up the middle that got past the pitcher was an almost guaranteed hit. Singles up the middle were actually kind of cool.

Now with all the changes in defensive positioning it's usually an out.

One more reason, I guess, that hitters are focused so much more on launching it instead.