Re: What Do You Do In This Scenario: Swing Away or Bunt?
posted at 1/15/2014 3:46 AM EST
In response to royf19's comment:
The irony of this is that the other team was already on its second pitcher, who replaced the starter after 2.1 innings, allowing no runs, three hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
Personally, I would have let the pitcher swing away. I'm not replacing my starter who's cruising in the fifth inning of a 1-0 game. With a runner on third, I'm not going to bunt, even a safety bunt, because I feel I'm giving up an out. The way I look at it, let the pitcher hit. Worse case, a shallow fly or pop up or a strikeout and there's just one out with the top of the lineup due up. A double-play ball will tie the score.
Now no one is right or wrong IMO. I just thought it was interesting what happened and whom the manager was and how we look at things.
Here's what happened, I came across a video of the game on YouTube (a you might like recommendation that showed up when I went to the the site).
It's the second-to-last game of the 1967 season for the Red Sox against the Minnesota Twins. Jose Santiago was the starting pitcher. He struggled in the first inning -- three hits and a walk but escaped by just allowing one run.
He's cruising after that -- retired 12 of 14 batters like I said, which is why I wasn't ready to replace him.
For some reason, I fast-forwarded the game and don't know why, but the Twins replaced starter Jim Kaat with Jim Perry with one out in the third in the middle of an at-bat.
In the fifth inning, Reggie Smith doubles to lead off the inning. There was a pinch-hitter in the inning but not for Santiago. Dalton Jones pinch hits for Russ Gibson and beats out an infield grounder. Ball took a bad hop and Rod Carew made a nice stop to prevent the ball from going into the outfield but could't get Jones at 1B.
Now Santiago is coming to the plate. And Dick Williams allowed Santiago to hit away.
Santiago struck out as did Mike Andrews who followed. So now there's two outs and runners still on first and third.
However, Jerry Adair and Carl Yastrzemski hit back-to-back RBI singles to give Boston a 2-1 lead.
After the Twins tied the score the next inning, George Scott hit a solo home run in the sixth then Yaz gave the Sox breathing room with a three-run homer in the seventh. Santiago went seven innings and Gary Bell, who had warmed up in the first, pitched the last two innings.
I thought it was interesting when I saw Santiago hitting away because if that situation happened this year -- same must-win game, same inning, same 1-0 score -- John Farrell (or Francona in other years) would have been ripped for not bunting No. 9 batter, certainly if that batter was a pitcher, but even if he wasn't.
And many of those same folks praise Dick Williams as a manager, yet Williams allowed Santiago to hit and hit away.
Great thread, Roy. Didn't get to respond before you spilled the beans. My answer would have been swing away, of course. :)
A consideration would have been the speed of the runner at third. Now that I know that it was Reggie Smith, the defense would have probably played for the DP up the middle and conceeded the run. I wouldn't have had Smith break for home on a ball hit sharply to the corners, but I would on anything hit to the towards the middle, unless the second baseman and shortstop were in on the grass. The runner at third also had the option of getting into rundown if he felt he was nailed at the plate, and could delay things until the runner on first made it to third. There really wasn't that much to lose by swinging away and the defense would be prepared for the squeeze, so there probably wasn't much to gain from the bunt except for Jones's advance to second to put two runners in scoring position with one out - a very marginal gain considering things could always go wrong on a bunt too.