Postgame: Bunting without the bunt sign
- Blog Post by: Phil Miller
- June 10, 2012 - 7:30 PM
The Twins have been a little bunt happy lately, and the results have been mixed.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said today was another example where players aren’t getting the bunt sign; they’re bunting on their own. Denard Span’s third-inning sacrifice bunt (with the Twins trailing 1-0) probably should have been dragged down the first-base line, since the Cubs had third baseman Ian Stewart playing in, anticipating the bunt, Gardenhire said.
By the seventh inning, the Twins were down 4-0, doing nothing against Ryan Dempster. Trevor Plouffe led off with a bunt single, as Stewart tried grabbing the ball with his bare hand but dropped it. Brian Dozier tried to follow suit with another bunt, but Stewart was playing in again and turned that into an easy out. Gardenhire said if Dozier’s going to bunt in that situation, “It’s got to be a really good bunt, and that wasn’t a good bunt.”
People might read that and think Gardenhire should take the decision out of his players' hands, dictating every move from the bench. That's how it works in college baseball, but not in the big leagues. Gardenhire always says he doesn't want his players to be robots. At this level, teams count on their players to have a good feel for the game. Sure, the Twins will give the bunt sign in obvious sacrifice situations, but not today in the seventh inning.
So what was Dozier thinking? Maybe he remembered last Sunday in Cleveland. Looking back at that day's play-by-play, the fourth inning against Justin Masterson started with two bunt singles -- one by Dozier and then one by Plouffe -- that led to a run. Nobody was questioning all the bunting that day.
* The Twins caught a break later in the seventh inning today when Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro mishandled a bouncer from Drew Butera for an error. Plouffe reached third, and as the ball bounced away from Castro, third-base coach Steve Liddle sent Plouffe home. Castro made the Twins pay, retrieving the ball in time to throw out Plouffe at the plate.
Easy to second-guess that one -- Plouffe would have been on third base with one out -- but in the heat of the moment, with a split-second to decide, I can see why Liddle took the chance.
* The Twins are off Monday before playing host to Jim Thome and the Phillies on Tuesday. Here are the pitching matchups:
Tuesday: Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44)
Wednesday: P.J. Walters (2-1, 4.42) vs. Cole Hamels (8-3, 2.93)
Thursday: Scott Diamond (5-1, 1.61) vs. Joe Blanton (5-6, 5.40)
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