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Dodgers Bunts Help Giants to 2-1 Victory
Back in the late 1960's and the 1970's, Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver was hesitant using sacrifice bunts saying, "Your most precious possessions on offense are
your 27 outs."
In 2012, Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly eschewed that maxim using the sacrifice bunt in the seventh and eighth innings to squash rallies allowing the San Francisco Giants to win the game 2-1.
"Either one of those aren't decisions that I'd look back and change," Mattingly said.
So let's present it to you.
Your team is trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning when you get back-to-back singles to have runners on first and second with no outs. Juan Uribe, who successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt four times in the last four seasons, is coming up to the plate. Also Uribe in the last ten games has been batting .258, close to his career average. Do you...
a. Allow him to swing?
b. Pull him for a pinch hitter?
c. Make him lay down a sacrifice bunt?
Well Mattingly chose c. Uribe's bunt landed a foot in front of the plate allowing catcher Buster Posey to throw to third base for the first out. Third baseman Joaquin Arias then threw to first base to get Uribe out. Just your everyday 2-5-3 double play.
However if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. And so Mattingly had Mark Ellis lay down a bunt in the eighth inning also with runners on first and second with no outs. He succeeds in moving the runners up. The problem: first base is open for Matt Kemp.
So the Giants predictably take the bat out of Kemp's hands and intentionally walk him to load the bases putting all the pressure on Andre Ethier's shoulders.
"I'm going to bunt the guys over, and put my best two RBI guys up there and make them make a choice," Mattingly said. "I don't even need a hit. I've just got to get a ball in the air."
Of course earlier in the game Ethier grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the third inning. History repeated, Ethier grounding into the Dodgers' fourth double play of the night and the Dodgers coming up with goose eggs.
But like Mattingly said he wouldn't change his strategy. "We've just got to execute, that's all," Mattingly said reassuredly.
All of it erased what was another good outing by Clayton Kershaw (L, 2-1) against the Giants, though not his best. Before batting practice, a Giants' beat reporter pitched an idea having Dodgers' southpaw starter Clayton Kershaw pitch right-handed. It was a valid request since Kershaw dominated the Giants last season going 5-0 with a 1.07 earned run average in six starts including winning all four head-to-head matchups with Tim Lincecum.
Testing Kershaw's ambidexterity turned out to be unnecessary. With two pitches in the second inning — the first a Posey liner to left field; the second a Brett Pill 379-foot homer to the left field bleachers — the Giants had the 2-0 lead.
"They made me pay for two pitches that I missed spots with," Kershaw said.
It was only the start of a troubling inning for Kershaw that saw him make 22 more pitches before getting out of a runners-on-second-and-third jam by getting Angel Pagan to strike out swinging. "That stuff's going to happen," Kershaw shrugged off.
However that was the only trouble Kershaw was in all night.
"I felt pretty good," Kershaw commented about his overall eight-inning outing. "It's probably one of the better days I've felt this season."
An unlikely Dodger got the team a run back in the bottom half of the inning against Giants' starter Ryan Vogelsong (W, 1-2). No, not Andre Ethier who led off the inning with a double. But James Loney, as Mattingly painfully explained before the game, "It's day-to-day with James." Yes, the Loney that left Mattingly sighing with a smidge of exasperation before the game belted a double to the left-centerfield wall to bring home Ethier.
Loney also continued his sterling, if not interesting, defensive play. In the fourth inning with Pill on first base, Loney dropped a pop up hit by Joaquin Arias. Since only one runner was on base, the infield fly rule wasn't in play. Loney grabbed the ball, tagged Pill and stepped on first to complete the unassisted double play.
As if the Dodgers needed any more injury news, Juan Rivera was pulled after sliding to third base on Uribe's bunt double play in the seventh inning. "He felt a little something," Mattingly said.
Rivera confirmed he did feel something after that slide.
"I don't feel no pain," Rivera said pointing to the area around his left knee. "I just feel like..."
Rivera paused trying to look for the word as he repeatedly jabbed at his left hamstring.
"Like needles," I asked.
"Yeah. Like needles," he replied.
Let's chalk that up to more leg woes to update for tomorrow.
But despite the loss, the Dodgers still have the best record in the National League, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals. Dee Gordon, with two hits, extended his hitting streak to eight games.
No word yet on whether the press box dining room will be serving bundt cake tomorrow, however.
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