Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bunto Punto

Or, why Nicky can't bunt ...

Thursday was the second time this week that Nick Punto flat out failed to get a sacrifice bunt down.

It's not like he's been terrible all season at it; he has eight "sacrifice hits" — that's the offical term for a sac bunt — on the season, tied for sixth most in the American League. (Also among the six hitters with eight sac bunts is Denard Span.)

Thursday's problems came in the sixth inning. Joe Crede walked on four pitches. Mike Redmond walked on five pitches, with a pitching change tossed in after the first two balls. Up come Punto — foul bunt, swinging foul, foul bunt for strike three.

Then Denard Span walked (on four pitches), leading the TV boys to absolve Punto's failure. (And then Orlando Cabrera fell behind 0-2, prompting Bert Blyeleven to proclaim that that doesn't matter — which, of course, it does; in at-bats that start 0-2, Cabrera this year is hitting .232 — and Cabrera bounded into a double play. But that's another rant.)

The other failure came Sunday, in the finale of the Tigers series. With the score tied in the eighth, Redmond led off with a single. Carlos Gomez pinch ran. Punto failed to get his bunt down and wound up flying out to right. Gomez advanced to second when the next batter (Jason Kubel) grounded out, but got no further.

So really, Punto's bunting problems this week didn't cost the team runs. But it cost the team opportunities to score.

And, let's face it — if you're a .200-hitting middle infielder with no power, you better get every bunt down.

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