Jul 24, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton (1) argues with umpire Adam Hamari (78) after striking out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Wednesday, April 15th:
The White Sox came into the bottom of the 9th inning down by a score of 4-2. Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen quickly walked Emilio Bonifacio and then proceeded to hit Micah Johnson with a pitch. This put runners on both first and second base. Up came Adam Eaton who was struggling mightily at the plate during first week of the season.
With Johnson on first base, the double play was hardly in order. Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu were ominously waiting in the wings, and all indications pointed to the beginning of a rally.
From the dugout Robin Ventura called for a bunt. This is a solid idea in concept because placing runners on second and third gives the White Sox a great shot at tying the ballgame. Granted it also gives away an out, automatically dousing some of the momentum. Regardless, it’s a risk you take.
Adam Eaton proceeded to look awful on his first bunt attempt, and didn’t look much better the second time around. Down 0-2, conventional wisdom said it was time to swing away, especially since the element of surprise was long gone.
Instead Eaton fouled the third bunt attempt into the ground and the play was deemed a colossal fail. With an out and the runners failing to move over, the White Sox would go on to lose the game. Ventura admitted postgame that he was the brainchild behind the decision. So why was he setting up Eaton to fail?
The risk of fouling off the third pitch significantly outweighs the reward of moving the runners over at that point. Would a league-average or replacement coach have made a different call. Probably. Would Eaton have ripped a single into right and ignited a rally? Quite possibly. We’ll never know.
Next: Instant replay?