Well, it took a month and a half. But, I think last night was the first time Bobby Valentine made a move that I disagreed with. I don’t mean it’s the first time he made a move that didn’t work. But, this was the first time he made a move that not only wouldn’t I have made, but one that I don’t at least see why he did it. For instance, I might not have left some of the starters in quite as long as he has, but I can see where he had a reason. Last night, that wasn’t the case.
Why was Marlon Byrd bunting in the ninth inning?
Now, before you start going all “smallball vs. sabermetrics” on me, let me point out that I don’t generally work in absolutes. I know that most of the country likes the comfort of absolutes. That’s good for them. Eye test vs. computer program. Liberal vs. conservative. Pro choice vs. pro life. It’s one or the other. But, that’s really not the best way to look at things. Everything has situations that are good or bad fits.
I had high hopes for Bobby V when the EEIdiots asked him if he was a smallball guy. He answered that he was a baseball guy. I was quite pleased. But, then last night happened.
In the top of the ninth, the Sox were down a run. Lead-off guy gets a single. Next guy walks. Clearly Broxton is off a bit. He walked the tying run into scoring position with nobody out. It’s really those last two points that are important. The tying run is already in scoring position. Nobody is out. So, the Sox had three chances for somebody to get a hit off a pitcher who has already given up one in the inning. Then, Byrd squares around. But, Broxton is having a bit of trouble finding the plate. A foul bunt. A ball. Basically, Bobby is sitting in the dugout thinking, “I wish this guy would stop throwing balls so we can make an out.” Why? Why not give Byrd a chance? Maybe he’ll draw a walk and load the bases with nobody out. What the worst that can happen? A double play? That leaves the tying run at third with two out. (Which, by the way, is the exact situation the Sox ended up in later that inning) What if Byrd gets a hit? Tying run scores. What if he strikes out? Tying run is still in scoring position with one out.
But, the Sox bunted. That way the tying run could score on an out. Except, of course, that it didn’t. So, the Sox gave away an out for nothing.
Does the sac bunt have its place in the game? Sure. In fact, if the Sox had been one batter further in the line-up, it would have made more sense. Bunting a runner over for the top of the order makes more sense than setting up the ninth hitter. If the pitcher was throwing bullets to the point that a hit is out of the question, and even a flyball is a risky chance, that might be a good reason to bunt. There are certainly several factors that could have made that situation a place to lay down a bunt. Last night didn’t have them, though.
I’ve come to expect more from Bobby Valentine.