Friday, September 11, 2009

The wrong times to bunt

Tragic number as of Friday morning: 18. Twins and Tigers both lost on Thursday.

Today's sermon is a response to this quote from the AP game story:

"You give up three runs, you should have an opportunity to win," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately for us, our offense never could get anything going."

Well, maybe — just maybe — that's because Gardenhire didn't give it a chance to get anything going.

Fifth inning. Toronto has a 2-1 lead. Nick Punto opens the inning with an eight-pitch at-bat that concludes with a double down the right field line. This brings up Denard Span, possessor of a .392 OPB, master of the drawn-out at-bat, who had homered in his previous at-bat (above). It's the perfect opportunity to build a big inning and wear down starter Brent Cecil.

Gardy has Span bunt the first pitch. He pops up. Orlando Cabrera singles Punto home anyway, but Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau do nothing, and the inning ends with no further damage.

Seventh inning. Twins are again behind by a run. Brendan Harris leads off with a walk. In defiance of the adage "play for the tie at home, play for the win on the road," Gardy has Punto bunt. It turns into a force out at second. The Twins don't score.

It isn't just that the Twins failed to execute the bunts, although that's certainly the case. It's that giving away outs when trailing on the road is a really bad idea.

It's especially bad when one of the guys who's giving away the outs is a hitter of Span's quality and the runner is already in scoring position.

It's marginally more justifiable with Punto, because he's not a quality hitter. But that's why you have pinch hitters. When Punto bunted, he was giving away one of the nine outs the Twins had left.

That's wasteful spending.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't assume that Gardy made the call on Span bunting. He's certainly capable of doing it on his own and he's had a terrible time lately getting runners from second to third with nobody out. I'm sure the decision for Punto to bunt was Gardy's. I had no problem with that, it was pinch-running for Harris in the seventh and then bunting him over to second. Tolbert isn't that much faster than Harris and unless you're going to steal with Tolbert, I don't see much point in doing that move.