What ever happened to small ball?
It used to be a critical part of the game but it seems as though it is becoming less a part of the game in recent years. The Texas Rangers, a team known for their hitting, used it to perfection recently, but the IronPigs opted not to Tuesday night.
Lehigh Valley managed to comeback in the bottom of the 10th in Tuesday’ 8-7 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox, but they were lucky.
The ‘Pigs had just tied up the game, nobody was out and runners were on first (Brandon Moss) and second (Kevin Frandsen, who was pinch running for Delwyn Young) with the game all nodded up thanks to Moss’ RBI single. Tagg Bozied was due up.
The decision here is a no-brainer right? Have Bozied lay down a sacrifice bunt, take away the double play and now you have the winning run 90 feet away with two outs to work with. Also, since the next two batters due up after Bozied were a combined 0-for-7 on the night with two strikeouts you wouldn’t need to count on a hit, a sacrifice fly would win you the game as well. But not so fast.
Bozied comes up swinging and eventually strikes out, leaving the ‘Pigs a ground ball away from heading into the 11th inning. Now some might argue that Bozied, who was 0-for-4 before striking out, has not successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt since 2009, but if you are at the Triple-A level, and he’s spent at least parts of eight seasons at the Triple-A level, you should be able to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
Luckily for Lehigh Valley, Josh Barfield was able to get his first hit of the night, which was enough to knock in Frandsen from second. Despite Frandsen sliding in safe at home, the throw beat him and had Red Sox’s catcher Luis Exposito been set up in front of the plate instead of behind, the ‘Pigs would have only had one out to get the game-winning run across the plate.
The ‘Pigs have been winning more often this season, mostly due to Ryne Sandberg’s managing style, which includes some aspects of small ball like the double steals he often puts on, but if the IronPigs don’t take the opportunity to create runs in close ballgames, they won’t go as far as they can this season.