The Baseball Desert

Friday, May 20, 2005

Good news

We're taking things one day at a time right now, so I'm happy to report that not only did the Red Sox not lose last night (OK, so they didn't play, but I'll take what I can get right now...), but they also gained half a game on Baltimore, thanks to an unexpected win by the Royals.

Since there was no Red Sox game to watch, I caught up with the Nationals, who rode yet another great performance by Livan Hernandez to a 3-2 win over the Brewers.

Hernandez gave up just 1 earned run over 6 innings, to run his record for the season to a more-than-respectable 7-2. I have to say that I like this guy (as I do his half-brother), and I like what he brings to the team. He pitches a lot of innings (at least 215 innings a season over the past five years) and goes deep into the ballgame, which has to be good news for a team's bullpen. And on top of that, last night - despite the pressure of pitching in a close game - he was quite happy to chat away with fans behind the dugout whilst he was stood in the on-deck circle, waiting to bat, which is always great to see.

Whilst we're on the subject of fans, it's worth checking out the attendance for yesterday's game: 30,968, for a Thursday afternoon game against the Brewers. After two years of being the Montreal Globetrotters, the Nats must be delighted not only to be settled in one place, but also to be drawing crowds like that. Although there's no statistic to back up my opinion (as far as I know), I'm betting that those two factors are worth at least a couple of notches in the win column.

The bottom line
There was one other thing that struck me from the game - in the 5th inning, with no outs and a runner on second, Cristian Guzman tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to 3rd. Since Guzman is struggling at the plate (he's hitting .206, 2 points lower than Livan Hernandez) I can see why Frank Robinson would want to do this, but to say that Guzman made a mess of the whole thing would be putting it mildly. He bunted foul twice, and then, with two strikes on him, proceeded to try to bunt once again. No prizes for guessing the end result: another foul bunt - strike three.

MASN color commentator Ron Darling questioned the wisdom of bunting with two strikes, but that, whilst a very valid question, seems to me to be missing the main point, which is this: if you're a professional baseball player making $4.2m a year, shouldn't you be able to at least lay down a sacrifice bunt now and again? Just a thought. Thanks for listening.