A diatribe on the sac bunt (or lack thereof)

Why bunt when you can hit into a double play?

Why bunt when you can hit into a double play?

Sure, there’s a great number of you that are disappointed I never bothered to recap the Brewers-Marlins series for you, but I’m in worldwide demand and I just didn’t have the time. Actually, I was kinda lazy on Friday and then shenanigans took up most of my weekend. But luckily, Brewers manager Ken Macha did something so stupid in one of the Marlins’ games that he decided to do it again on Sunday against the Braves. When it failed miserably for the second time in a week, my brilliant mind moved from case study to trend. And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for …

Monday: Marlins 7, Brewers 4. Tuesday: Marlins 10, Brewers 3. Wednesday: Brewers 9, Marlins 6. Thursday: The stage was set for a nice little comeback to tie the series. Dave Bush was on the hill against Josh Johnson, the Florida ace. The Fish took a 4-1 lead when Johnson launched a 3-run bomb, but Prince Fielder took Dan Meyer deep in the 8th inning to make it 4-3. In the 9th, Corey Hart led off with an infield single. Jody Gerut pinch hit and … did not bunt. Instead, he hit into a double play. Rally officially killed. Marlins win, 4-3.

Friday: Brewers 4, Braves 0. Saturday: Brewers 3, Braves 0. Sunday: The stage was now set for a series sweep, a winning road trip and happy times coming home for next week’s homestand. The Crew unloaded on superhyped prospect Tommy Hanson to the tune of seven runs in six innings. Ryan Braun hit two 2-run dingers and Mike Cameron also launched a 2-run shot. Taking a 7-5 lead in the 8th inning, Carlos Villanueva imploded. He gave up four hits, three runs (two of them with two outs) and the Braves took a 8-7 lead into the 9th inning. Now, I’m obviously pissed Chuck V did that, but he had 14 straight scoreless appearances coming in, so it had to happen eventually. I think Macha should have pulled him as soon as the Braves started teeing off on his hanging curveballs, but hindsight is 20/20 or somethin’ like that. I can’t see back in time at all, especially with perfect vision, so that cannot be verified. Back to the story at hand, though.

To start the 9th, pinch hitter Casey McGehee walked. Jason Kendall, with his .216 batting average in tow, came to bat and … did not bunt. Instead, he hit into a double play. Rally officially killed. Braves win, 8-7.

On May 27 against the Cardinals, the same shit happened with Jody Gerut by the way. He popped out instead of bunting and the Crew lost by one. But that was just one managerial decision, so I didn’t think too much of it beyond a little questioning.

With this happening three times in less than two weeks, we have to discuss the strategy behind a sacrifice bunt late in a close game. And by discuss, I mean I tell you the correct answer and you nod approvingly. Some managers don’t like sac bunting because it’s essentially giving up an out just to move runners up one base. You only have three outs to work with, so why give one away? A fair statement, but only in certain situations. Early in a game (early is vague, so let’s say before the 7th inning), it’s unnecessary. If the deficit is more than one (maybe two), it’s dumb because you need to produce multiple runs. But when it’s a ONE RUN GAME, you need to put a damn runner in scoring position. I know the Crew loves hitting bombs, but just give yourself the option of scoring multiple ways.

Macha explains himself to some extent here, but he also contradicts himself. Macha says he “lives by the adage you play for the win on the road, the tie at home.” Which is fine and dandy (outside of being stupid, because this isn’t basketball – you don’t have that many chances to score, especially late in the game. You have to take advantage) because on May 27, he played for the win at home (as referenced above) and it failed. Lyin’ SOB. The last manager to get defensive with his answers and refuse to seek change after strategy fails was Ned Yost. We remember how that ended.

Also, it’s not like the Crew had Braun or Fielder up to bat. They had Gerut and Kendall batting in those situations. They aren’t going to hit home runs anyway, so why not move the runner to second base with a bunt? Then, you have one out and a runner in scoring position. A single ties the game. Even if you don’t bunt and you get a single, you still need another one to tie the game. Go ahead and tell me how I’m wrong, because we both know I’m not.

This road trip could have been 5 wins of awesomeness, or even 4 (still above .500) if Macha tried something a little different. Instead, the Crew went 3-4. Not terrible, but coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Records: 33-24, 1st place in the NL Central, 2 games clear of St. Louis (going into Monday). 17-15 on the road.

Next up: The Brewers come home for six games, the first three against the Rockies and the next three against the Chicago White Sox. Braden Looper, Yovani Gallardo and Dave Bush will pitch against Colorado.


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