Monday, April 2, 2018

On bunts and no-hitters

Jose Berrios was spectacular on Sunday, and the Twins won 7-0. Then they turned the spotlight away from their young hurler to a ninth-inning bunt single by Baltimore's Chance Sisco, which they termed "bush league" and "not good baseball."

Nonsense. Berrios to that point had pitched out of the stretch to exactly one batter. The O's needed baserunners -- and, crucially, the Twins were in an overshift, with three infielders on the right side against the left-handed Sisco.

If' it's not good form to bunt for a hit when down seven, why is it good form to be in an overshift when up seven? The illogic in the position espoused by Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario and Berrios himself is glaring.

Sisco reached base and triggered the closest thing Baltimore had to a rally all day. His bunt wasn't "bad baseball." It was good baseball, and the Twins shouldn't be complaining.

You don't want him to bunt? Don't overshift him. He's a slow catcher. It's that easy.

I suspect that part of the Twins angst over the Sisco bunt was the very real possibility that the one hit allowed by Berrios to that point could be changed to an error. It was a fly ball hit by Sisco with two out in the third Eddie Rosario got a glove on at the warning track but couldn't hang on. The scorer ruled it a double.

In the Twins TV booth, Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer agreed. Me, I thought it was a ball that should have been caught.

Those are subjective opinions. For a more objective call:

Ball's caught 90 percent of the time? Yeah, there's grounds to appeal that call.

Cisco's bunt single made that point moot in terms of getting a no-hitter, and later in the inning, Berrios gave up a clean single. So he got a three-hit shutout. I'll take that.

Now, let's play a what-if. Say the official scorer had ruled that third-inning fly an error. Would the Twins still have conceded the bunt to Sisco in the ninth? My guess is they would, and I still wouldn't be irritated if Sisco bunted with a no-hitter on the line. I don't know when that "unwritten rule" of not bunting late to break up a no-hitter came into being, but the literature of no-hitters is riddled with attempted ninth-inning bunts.

Sisco was competing, not surrendering. Good for him.

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