I normally don't complain about the managing decisions of Ozzie Guillen, but tonight's game has seriously annoyed me.
It has been a pitcher's duel (currently scoreless in the 14th), so it gives Ozzie an excuse to bring out his small-ball tendencies.
I'll air my grievances on a case-by-case basis.
-Third inning bunt attempt by Gordon Beckham
It's a scoreless game in the third, and Scott Podsednik led off the inning with a single. With their best hitter over the past two months at the plate, the call is to lay down a bunt.
Wait, what? I really don't see how this makes any sense strategically.
Even when you add in his 0-5 tonight, Beckham is still hitting .296. He's shown that he can handle the bat, drive balls to the gap and be patient enough to take a walk. So instead your plan is to take the bat out of his hands?
Beckham got the bunt down, but Hernandez was able to field the ball and get Podsednik at second.
Let's assume that he gets it down successfully. You would have a man on second with one out and the next two hitters were Alex Rios and Jim Thome, who are hitting .262 and .252 respectively on the season.
Even if you further assume that one of those guys drives in the run, how big of a benefit does that give you?
In hindsight that would have been the winning run, but you can't possibly know that in the third inning. The Sox would still have to hold the lead for seven innings and not score any runs for that run to be so important.
Wouldn't playing for the big inning make a lot more sense? I really don't see the point in giving up the out there.
-10th inning Gordon Beckham bunt attempt
This was basically the same situation as the third inning. Podsednik leads off with another single, and Beckham again squares up to bunt.
Strategically this one makes a lot more sense. It's the 10th inning and getting any kind of run probably wins the game.
That still doesn't mean I have to like it.
Beckham ended up bunting it foul on the first two pitches, followed by a strikeout.
What makes this more aggravating to me is that on the very next batter, Ozzie calls for the hit and run.
Where the heck was that call five minutes ago? Wouldn't you rather give that a shot with no outs than with one? You couldn't have called a hit and run with a solid contact hitter at the plate, or called for a straight steal?
If it works you get three chances to score instead of two, if it doesn't you're in the same spot or Scott possibly makes it to second anyways and the at bat continues.
Even after the failed bunt, they ended up having runners on first and third with one out and first and second with two outs after Pods stupidly got picked off third base. Because of that failed at bat and poor base running, they killed what could have been a big inning.
I suppose that you could argue that if Podsednik had already been on second base that Rios' hit would have driven in the go ahead run.
My response to that: maybe.
First off, Rios' ball was hit pretty close to the second baseman and may have been caught if Lopez weren't running to cover second.
Secondly, I'm not so sure Pods would have been able to score from second. The ball was not in the gap and Seattle has some very strong arms in center and right. They already had one player cut down at the plate and may not have risked it with one out.
From that point you can argue whether or not Scott still would have been picked off at third. If not, Quentin's fly ball to end the inning would have been a sac fly. That's assuming an awful lot of things though.
-11th inning Alexei Ramirez bunt
After Pierzynski reached on a dropped third strike, the Sox attempted yet another bunt. Ramirez actually bunted successfully, but it didn't matter.
Here's the problem with playing small ball: even if you execute the bunt successfully, you still have to get the clutch hit to bring him in.
The Sox had shown an inability to get a hit when they needed it the entire game, and yet we still felt like giving up the out was a good idea.
This is especially true considering that the next two hitters in the lineup were Mark Kotsay and Jason Nix. Those aren't exactly the guys you want to depend on to drive in a key run if you can avoid it.
I really don't know why Ozzie insists on calling for the bunt so often. The Sox have proven time and time again that they're not a good bunting team and they often struggle to make solid contact with men on.
They have a very power heavy lineup that is built on their ability to drive the ball, and yet when it gets close he tries to play like it is still 1959 and he has Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox at the top of the order.
Please Ozzie, stop calling for the bunt so often. Most of your lineup struggles to bunt successfully, and if your guys could hit in the clutch with any kind of regularity you wouldn't have to bunt in the first place.