Monday, April 16, 2012
Clearing the bases: Bunt-y Sunday
By Christina Kahrl
First base: If at first you do succeed, why not try again? That was the choice of Clint Hurdle the bunt-happy skipper of the Pirates, on Sunday. Up by just a run in the eighth inning against the Giants with two men on and nobody out and with ground-pounding lefty Jeremy Affeldt just brought into the ballgame, Hurdle had Neil Walker drop a bunt to take the DP out of order and set up a manufactured run with the bottom of his batting order. That risk run, the Pirates got more booty than they bargained for: Pablo Sandoval’s wild throw to first plated the lead runner Andrew McCutchen and put trailing runner Casey McGehee on third.
So having lucked into a run already, what did Hurdle do with runners at the corners and utility infielder Josh Harrison up, followed by backup catcher Michael McKenry and the pitchers’ spot, and nobody out? He had Harrison bunt too, and he plated McGehee. In any first-and-second, nobody-out situation, you’re expected to wind up with about 1.4 runs, but that’s overwhelmingly with batters swinging away. Hurdle’s lineup didn’t just beat the odds of scoring that inning, they beat them without the ball leaving the infield. Not too shabby.
Second base: Let’s do two? The Royals got blown out by the Tribe. Down by eight after eight, they stooped to baseball’s version of a concession speech: They had outfielder Mitch Maier toss a mop-up inning. Maier pitched a scoreless ninth to double his career total of innings pitched, and he has yet to be scored upon.
Third base: Cardinals’ Carpenter has 5 RBIs… does not compute, does not compute… but it doesn’t have to! That’s because it’s not Chris Carpenter from the mound, it’s the other Carpenter on the Mound City team who happens to be swinging heavy lumber -- Matt Carpenter. Now sure, pummeling the Cubs may not be like producing world peace, but a year ago Allen Craig and David Freese weren’t well-known outside St. Louis. With two singles, a triple and a homer, Carpenter added to his case for why he’s yet another no-name asset the Cards might have to make space for.
Home plate: Tweet of the Day. If you want to know more about what Mike Trout can do that nobody else does, thank Mark for sharing…
Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter.