Games » Minnesota TwinsJun4
Should Escobar have bunted in the fourth inning?
The Kansas City Star
Here’s the situation: The Royals and the Twins were tied at 4 in the fourth inning. The Royals were behind 4-1 when Johnny Giavotella led off the inning, but he singled, Billy Butler singled and Mike Moustakas doubled. The Twins then made two errors, E-6 and E-4, and the score was tied with Jeff Francoeur on second and Eric Hosmer on first. Manager Ned Yost then had Alcides Escobar bunt Francoeur and Hosmer into scoring position.
Here are the reasons I heard put forth by members of the media as to why that was the wrong move: It’s the American League. It’s too early to bunt. You have a young pitcher on the mound who isn’t likely to hold a one-run lead. Escobar is swinging the bat well. Ned should have showed some confidence in the bottom of the batting order.
Here are the reasons I heard put forth by Ned Yost as to why it was the right move: If he grabbed the lead, he could have gone to Kelvin Herrera.
I don’t know if Ned intended to use Herrera to start the fifth inning or send Will Smith back out there on a short leash. But to do either (I’ll ask tomorrow), he had to have a lead. Yost figured the Royals had a good chance to grab a run if Jarrod Dyson just put the ball in play, and, failing that, Humberto Quintero had a chance to drive in two runs with a two-out hit. But Dyson and Quintero both struck out looking.
Managers always have to think about the next game, and they tend to avoid using up quality innings out of the bullpen unless they have a lead. So without that lead, Will Smith was going back out there. He then walked Josh Willingham and gave up a homer to Justin Morneau. After that, the Royals were behind the rest of the way.
• After the game, I came across Jeff Francoeur icing the heel he hurt on that play at the plate the other day. I asked him about the bunt, and he said, “That’s not a bad play there.” Frenchy thought that if the Royals had been able to grab the lead, it would have changed what they could do with the bullpen.
• Yost ended up having to go to the pen anyway, but went to Louis Coleman instead of Herrera.
• In that fourth inning, Mike Moustakas hit a double and Billy Butler wound up on third. Third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez got Mike’s attention over at second base and pointed to his own eyes. If you‘ve watched our videos with Eddie, you know that’s the sign he gives a trail runner when the lead runner is slow. Eddie then mouthed the words “watch him,” meaning he didn’t want Moose running up Billy’s back.
• The two called strikeouts in the fourth inning made the bunt decision look worse. Earlier, I asked hitting coach Kevin Seitzer about bad pitch-selection decisions, and he said they usually indicate late movement on the pitch.
• In the sixth inning, Jarrod Dyson made a heads-up play when Minnesota’s Ben Revere got caught off first base. Jeff Francoeur threw the ball home in an attempt to keep a run from scoring. The throw was up the line, and catcher Humberto Quintero realized Revere was trying to advance to second on the throw. The play went 9-2-6-3-8, and if the 8 hadn’t sprinted in from center field, Revere would have made it to second base.
• The Royals lost 10-7, and two walks scored. It would have been a much different ballgame if the Royals pitchers hadn’t given up five walks. (Although one was intentional, and that decision worked out when Tim Collins struck out Justin Morneau.)
• With two outs in the nine inning and the Royals down by three, Alex Gordon had a great plate appearance. He saw eight pitches and walked. It’s good to see Alex not mail it in at that point of the game.
• Before the game, I talked to Ned Yost about dealing with a player who makes a mistake in a game. Ned said he deals with it right away — if it’s something that is going to come up again before the game is over. If not, he will wait until the next day to talk to the player. He will be calmer, and the player will be more receptive to what Ned has to say.
• After getting picked off first base, failing to slide after it happened and making an error on a routine grounder, I get the impression Yuniesky Betancourt got talked to right away and the next day. (Just a guess on my part, but it may not be an accident that Johnny Giavotella started in this game.)
The other half of a great play
Brayan Pena knew he was going to get blown up at the plate Sunday. Alex Gordon had just made the catch and throw that had everyone coming out of their seats, and Brayan was at home plate, waiting on the ball. The runner was bearing down on him.
After catching the ball, Brayan tried to get “soft.” If his body was tense, it would have been easier for the collision to jar the ball loose. Brayan told me the only tense thing on his body was the right hand that held the ball. Hold the ball loosely, and it can get knocked away.
Brayan said he didn’t have any plan except to: 1.) give with the hit 2.) hold onto the ball and 3.) show it to the home-plate umpire afterward. He may have gone 0-3 at the plate Sunday, but Brayan was 3 for 3 on this play.
Hosmer will debut in right field Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jeff Francouer will shift to center field.