CHICAGO -- Your eyes did not deceive you Thursday night. That was a Red Sox manager, John Farrell, calling for a bases-loaded squeeze bunt in the ninth inning, and Red Sox pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera executing it perfectly for an insurance run in Boston’s 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
You saw the Red Sox do something they have not done in 32 years, since Gary Allenson dropped a bases-loaded bunt single on Aug. 28, 1982 in the 10th inning of a walkoff win, according to research by Sox crack statman Jon Shestakofsky. The last time they sacrificed with the bases loaded was June 12, 1979 at Kansas City, when Butch Hobson reached on an error, and the day before Jerry Remy successfully sacrificed.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura had just instructed reliever Ronnie Belisario to issue an intentional walk to load the bases in the ninth, when Farrell sent the switch-hitting Herrera to bat for Ryan Roberts and inserted Grady Sizemore to run at third base for Mike Carp. Ventura countered by summoning left-hander Scott Downs to face Herrera, switching him to the right side.
Herrera is a better hitter left-handed, so that’s when Farrell said he made his decision to have Herrera bunt. It was a safety squeeze, meaning Sizemore waited to see that Herrera got his bunt down. Herrera pushed a beauty down the first-base line, so good that he beat it out for a base hit.
The Sox have not had a sacrifice bunt with the bases loaded in this century -- that much we know from certain, from a check of Baseball-reference.com. It remains to be determined whether they’ve had a bunt hit in those circumstances.
Herrera, the former Rockie who has 29 sacrifice bunts in his career, including four with the Red Sox, said he has bunted with the bases loaded before, although if he did so, it was not a sacrifice. None of his sacrifices have come with the bases loaded.
“It was the perfect time for me to try to get that RBI and help the team -- a big difference to be ahead by two runs,’’ Herrera said. “That was a really big opportunity for me to get the ball down.’’