Swing Away, Snider
In the wake of the Jays' first road loss of the season, a few things became apparent:
- If David Purcey ever figures out what he's doing, he's going to win big
- If the Jays continue to walk 10 batters a game, things aren't going to go well
- Travis Snider shouldn't be asked to bunt anymore
In the seventh inning, down 5-4, a Lyle Overbay walk and Rod Barajas single put runners at first and second with no one out. With the number 9 hitter due, it's not an unreasonable play to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
But let's examine this particular situation:
These are the suddenly-thwacktastic Blue Jays, leading the league in runs scored, and this particular #9 hitter is loaded with a good deal of that thwack.
Snider had exactly zero sacrifice bunts in his career, largely because, as the broadcast team pointed out, he was more accomplished for hitting light tower home runs.
True, he was facing a left-hander - a tough test for Snider - but then why compound that challenge by asking him to do something he'd never done before? Snider fouled off his first attempt. Had he fouled off the second, now you've hung the rookie out to dry with an 0-2 count against the lefty specialist.
And why give Rafael Perez, the talented but beleaguered Indians reliever, a break by giving away an out?
If Cito Gaston was determined to drop down a bunt, he could have pinch hit John McDonald for Snider, though with none out in the seventh Snider was almost guaranteed another at-bat in the ball game.
As it turns out, Snider got the bunt down, moved the runners into scoring position and received a lot of love in the dugout.
It's nice that Snider was able to execute, but it's kind of like your state of the art, 64" plasma screen home entertainment system having the ability to play 8-tracks. Neat trick, but not terribly useful in the grand scheme of things.
Ultimately, nothing came of the bunt, as Marco Scutaro struck out and Aaron Hill popped up to end the inning.
The best option available to Gaston was just to let Snider hit away. It might not have worked out any better. He might have bounced into a double play (or worse; Asdrubal Cabrera WAS in the game). But Perez had struggled to get anyone out, and Snider has exceptional power - maybe he bounces a double into the corner, ties the game, and then you have runners at second and third with no one
out and the potential for a big inning. The percentage play here was to let the kid hit.
As Earl Weaver used to say "if you play for one run, that's all you're going to get." In this case, the Jays didn't even the run. All they got was proof that their young slugger can lay down a bunt. Which is really too bad, because it means that Snider will almost certainly be asked to do it again.