Mar 10, 2013, 7:57 PM EDT
Four sacrifice bunt attempts in one game.
I’d be pretty disgusted if it were the Marlins trying such a thing to beat the Mets in mid-August. But, no, that’s what Team USA did on Sunday on its way to topping Canada 9-4.
Technically, it will go into the books at three sacrifice bunt attempts, since Shane Victorino merely fouled back his one attempt before later striking out in the seventh. The first two were successful, the second especially so. The first, coming in the second, was put down by Adam Jones with two on and none out. No runs followed, though. Ben Zobrist‘s bunt in the fourth resulted in a Taylor Green error, scoring a run and opening the door for a two-run inning.
The last bunt was a huge flop, with Zobrist popping one up for the first out in the eighth. Fortunately, Jones bailed the team out afterwards, delivering a two-run double to put Team USA on top for good.
So, yes, everything worked out in the end. Even though Joe Torre’s team tried to give away four outs. Even though Giancarlo Stanton, the country’s (and maybe the world’s) best power hitter, sat out in favor of Shane Victorino. Even though Torre was more worried about making sure everyone got into the game than trying to win it.
And that last part may be the biggest problem of all. Joe Torre works for Major League Baseball. He made commitments to teams in return for acquiring the services of players. While the managers of Japan and the Dominican Republic are doing the best they can, within the WBC’s pitcher usage rules, to win their games, Torre is going above and beyond; making sure everyone gets a turn, not using a reliever after he’s already warmed up once and not letting any of his true relievers pitch more than an inning.
Of course, Torre isn’t exactly a tactical genius even when he doesn’t have to deal with such limitations. Witness today’s eighth-inning gem to intentionally walk light-hitting left-hander Pete Orr in a 5-4 game to load the bases for a left-handed-hitting pinch-hitter. Given that it meant a walk could force in a run, I doubt it improved the U.S.’s chances of staying ahead in the eighth. What it definitely did do is guarantee that Joey Votto would bat in the ninth, with Justin Morneau due up fourth, something that might have made a big difference had the U.S. offense not finally found itself and, absent any sac bunt attempts, piled on four runs in the top of the inning.
At age 73, this is probably Torre’s last time in a dugout. He was pretty close to a Hall of Famer as a player and he’s certainly going in as a manager after all of his success with the Yankees. And deservedly so. It’d be a nice victory lap for him if Team USA could somehow win the World Baseball Classic in its third try. Torre, though, needs to back off a bit, because he’s really hurting the cause right now.
May 19, 2013, 12:21 PM EDT
As first reported by beat writer Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have activated infielder Mark Ellis from the 15-day disabled list. Tim Federowicz was optioned to the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque to open up a roster spot. Ellis is in the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Sunday afternoon against the Braves,…
May 19, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT
From MLB.com’s Evan Drellich comes word that Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew is out of the starting lineup again on Sunday against the Twins due to lingering discomfort in his lower back. Pedro Ciriaco will get the start in his place. Drew also sat out of Saturday’s game, but he is not believed to be…
May 19, 2013, 10:58 AM EDT
Ike Davis went 0-for-4 in the Mets’ loss to the Cubs on Saturday and is batting just .156/.238/.359 in 39 total games this season. But the Mets’ decision-makers still aren’t ready to do anything drastic. Despite some reports to the contrary, Davis was assured Saturday by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson that a demotion to…
May 19, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT
The Rays confirmed late Saturday that 23-year-old right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired from the Royals this winter in the James Shields trade, will make his debut for Tampa Bay in Monday afternoon’s series opener against the Blue Jays. This from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Odorizzi is filling for staff ace David…
May 19, 2013, 8:54 AM EDT
Because the Cardinals have been just as hot and currently hold the top spot in the National League Central standings, the Reds’ run of success over the past couple of weeks has flown somewhat under the radar. Cincinnati was at it again on Saturday evening at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, routing the host Phillies by…
May 18, 2013, 11:55 PM EDT
It was not a matter of “if”, but “when”. All good things must come to an end. And other cliches. Today, the Orioles finally lost a game when leading after seven innings for the first time in 110 games, per ESPN Stats & Info. The Orioles led 6-4 over the Rays heading into the ninth. Closer…
May 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
Even at the age of 37 and less than a year separated from an Achilles injury, David Ortiz can still hit with the best of them. The slugger entered tonight’s game against the Twins with a .999 OPS, including five home runs and 23 RBI in 98 trips to the plate. Since joining the club…
May 18, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
The Athletics designated first baseman Daric Barton for assignment earlier today as the 27-year-old was carrying a sluggish .143 average through 23 plate appearances. On the other side of the country, the Mets have just about hit their tipping point with Ike Davis as D.J. Short pointed out earlier. Davis is hitting .156 with 46…
May 18, 2013, 10:15 PM EDT
The Evan Gattis story keeps on getting better. With the Braves struggling to put together any kind of offensive threat against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, trailing 1-0 heading into the eighth, Evan Gattis provided a pinch-hit two-run home run against reliever Kenley Jansen to give the Braves the 2-1 lead and eventually the win. A…
May 18, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
J.A. Happ was hit on the head with a Desmond Jennings line drive on May 7, suffering a minor skull fracture. While falling to the ground, Happ twisted his knee, and it is the latter injury that is causing him to progress slowly as the lefty has yet to pitch off a mound. Manager John…
May 18, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT
With Franklin Gutierrez working his way back into playing shape after landing on the DL with a strained right hamstring, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times suggests Endy Chavez could be the odd man out to create room on the roster. Chavez has a .288 on-base percentage and .310 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Jason Bay and…
May 18, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Padres lefty Cory Luebke has suffered a setback in his quest to return from Tommy John surgery, stopping his throwing program for the second time in 2013 according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Luebke posted a 2.61 ERA in five starts last year before landing on the DL in late April and undergoing TJ surgery in…
May 18, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
The Braves just received some bad news on reliever Eric O’Flaherty, as the lefty was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Losing O’Flaherty means the Braves have just one left-hander in the bullpen in Luis Avilan. As a result, the Braves signed Joe Beimel to a minor league contract per Tim…
May 18, 2013, 7:19 PM EDT
If you needed a reminder that Joey Votto is the best pure hitter in baseball, you got one this evening as the Reds defeated the Phillies 10-0. Joey Votto came to the plate six times and reached base all six times, including a two-run home run in the top of the ninth that served as…
May 18, 2013, 6:45 PM EDT
Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia had two uncharacteristically bad starts against the Rockies and Brewers recently, surrendering five and six runs, respectively. Garcia dealt with shoulder issues last year and they may be to blame for his recent adversity as well. The Cardinals have placed him on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain,…
May 18, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
UPDATE: It looks like Eric O’Flaherty is facing the worst-case scenario, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He’ll see Dr. James Andrews next week, but it would be a surprise if Tommy John surgery wasn’t the next step. The…
May 18, 2013, 6:05 PM EDT
In a season that has already endured the drama of one cheating allegation, another was set to boil last night when Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki asked umpire Tim McClelland to inspect the baseball Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was gripping. McClelland gave it a once-over, then tossed the ball out of play. Bumgarner said something to…
May 18, 2013, 5:40 PM EDT
This story is only tangentially linked to baseball, but it’s a slow Saturday afternoon, so what the heck. As you’ll see below, former pro wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts led the Turner Field crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during last night’s game between the Dodgers and Braves. Roberts (whose real name is…
May 18, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Robinson Cano homered twice while David Phelps had the longest outing of his career as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 7-2 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Brandon Morrow, who was recently skipped twice in Toronto’s rotation due to neck and back tightness, gave up five runs in five innings in the loss. Cano did…
May 18, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
Chris Nelson is on the move again. After being designated for assignment by the Yankees earlier this week, Nelson has been claimed off waivers by the Angels. Nelson began the season as the Rockies’ starting third baseman, but he batted .242/.282/.318 in 71 plate appearances before losing his job to Nolan Arenado and being traded…