Wednesday, June 08, 2005

But Can He Do Dishes?

Nick Johnson seemingly did it all yesterday. His two-run homer off Barry Zito to deep right were the only two runs our beloved team would score -- as usual, it was just enough to eek out a win.

But, it was his play in the 8th inning that really won the game. After CJ Nitkowski allowed a single and a walk to the two left-handed batters he was brought in to get out (in the game’s least surprising moment), Luis Ayala came on for his 72nd appearance of the season (or so it seems).

The next batter hit a slow ground ball towards Cristian Guzman, and he flipped it to Jamey Carroll for the first out. Caroll pivoted, and flung the ball in the general vicinity of first base with the accuracy of your average ceremonial first pitch.

From where I was sitting, it was easy to see that the worm-scraping throw was headed to the dugout.

But, I should have had more faith in our Majority Whip than that. NJ calmly planted his foot on the bag, stretched, reached out, and caught the ball as it scraped the ground. Double play. Inning over.

If the ball had gone for an error, which was distinctly possible, the tying run would have scored. NJ managed to save the lead he had given us. That’s leadership at its finest!
  • Tony Armas and Barry Zito dueled to see who could reach 100 pitches first, in what had to be the ugliest pitching duel of all-time. Neither pitcher was particularly effective, but somehow they kept getting batters out -- even if it took them 8 pitches per!

  • Frank went back to his bunt-tastic ways. Ever since Barry Svrluga wrote that mild rebuke of him a few weeks back, he had really cut down on the bunting. Yet, last night, he bunted early, often, and ineffectively.

    I can deal with it in certain situations, but I can’t stand the bunt in the first inning with a runner on second.

    We were discussing this at the game, but has it worked at all this season? With that play, you only have ONE chance to make it work. If that next batter doesn’t get a sac fly, it was pointless to have tried, because any subsequent scoring hit probably would’ve worked had the runner remained on second anyway.

    We could only come up with one time where it worked. Against the Cubs, Carlos Zambrano inexplicably threw to third base, probably believing there was a force play. The runner was safe, and the Nationals ended up scoring a few times that inning. (Without looking up that inning, if the Nats had a few hits later in the inning, is it really fair to say that the bunt worked?)

  • Homestand Record: 7-1
    Homestand Goal: 8-5

    Maybe I should revise this one upwards, huh? Nah, it’s just making up for the four wins or so they lost on the last road trip.

    It’s interesting how expectations constantly shift -- which certainly seems to be one of the themes of this year.

5 Comments:

  • I didn't like Carroll bunting in that situation either. But he seemed to be bunting for a base hit, which changes things a little, I think. Unless he just bunted way too hard on the sacrifice attempt.

    By Blogger Rocket1124, at 6/08/2005 8:56 AM  

  • Derek Jeter was master of the sacrifice that's also an attempt at a hit.

    If you're going to bunt, you might as well try to get on, but it's still, essentially, a sacrifice.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/08/2005 8:57 AM  

  • It's the NJ bunt in the 9th that didn't make sense to me - let him swing, see what happens. I know he must've been figuring he could catch the A's off-guard, but with his great hitting over the past couple weeks, if I'm him, I swing for it.

    By Anonymous MikeMidd, at 6/08/2005 9:54 AM  

  • I don't have a huge problem with his bunt there.

    NJ's tried dropping the bunt down the third base line probably 10 times or so this season. Frequently they've been foul, but he's also reached first at least twice on it. Last night was the first time I had seen him fail at it.

    The third basemen in the league play him REALLY deep, and they're usually off the line, closer to the hole at shortstop.

    On the first pitch, he's been dropping bunts down, getting the 3B to move into a more normal position.

    It didn't work out last night, but it's not a horrible play considering the defense.

    And, it's also important to remember that that's not a play that's being called off the bench. That's NJ on his own.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/08/2005 9:57 AM  

  • I'd love to see stats on fielders going to a base other than first on a sac bunt attempt. Most of the time, in my experience, they fail to get an out, but I'm not sure what the percentage is. So the "success" against Zambrano had more to do with his stupidity on the play than the bunt actually working.

    By Blogger Carl, at 6/08/2005 11:36 AM  

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