I was lucky enough to be in the ballpark for another Pirates win. Most of the game was incredible. That was the deepest into a game that I had ever seen a pitcher take a no-hitter in person, Andrew McCutchen hit a home run, and it was a beautiful day. Unfortunately, one event got me so steamed that this post will be dedicated to it: Jose Tabata’s bunt.
There were no outs with runners on first and second when Tabata came to the plate. He was hitting in front of Andrew McCutchen. He sacrifice bunted. These are the facts.
The result of the bunt was that McCutchen was intentionally walked to load the bases. This was the inevitable result of the bunt. Not only was Tabata deprived of the chance to knock in an insurance run, so was McCutchen, whose wRC+, where 100 is league average, is 169. Instead of Tabata taking his hacks, when he might drive in a run, followed by McCutchen, with two men on base, you ended up with Casey McGehee (wRC+ 87) followed by Neil Walker (wRC+ 89). Essentially, instead of giving a bad hitter and an MVP caliber hitter a chance to drive in the baserunners, Hurdle gave two below average hitters a chance to drive in the baserunners.
This wouldn’t be such a huge deal if the Pirates hadn’t done the same thing a few weeks ago. The result was the same: Andrew McCutchen walked, and while it wasn’t technically intentional, he never swung in the four pitch at bat and you could tell that he knew that he wasn’t going to. If the Pirates wanted this to happen, then they were stupid. If they thought that the Tigers would give him a chance to swing the bat, they were foolish. THere is no way that they made the correct decision.
In the end, it boils down to this. The bat should never be taken out of McCutchen’s hands. He’s the only above average hitter the Pirates have, and he’s one of the league’s best. But that’s exactly what the Pirates did today.
P.S. I couldn’t tell if the squeeze play was pitched out from where I was, but if it was then shame on Hurdle for that too. STUPID.