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The Dodgers, Don Mattingly and the great sacrifice

May 09, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly called for two sacrifice bunts on Tuesday -- and both times the result was less than favorable.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly called for two sacrifice bunts on Tuesday… (Paul Buck / EPA )

To sacrifice bunt or not to sacrifice bunt, that is the question.

To many modern baseball followers, the answer is – please, please, oh pretty please, do not do it. Sabermetric lovers despise the sacrifice bunt.

Twice the Dodgers decided to bunt the runners up Tuesday, and twice it blew up in their hopeful little faces.

For a manager who spent his entire life in the American League, Don Mattingly has become quite the National League manager.

And despite some semi-tough questioning about his decisions to bunt in the seventh and eighth innings of the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to the Giants, he was far from repentant.

“I wouldn’t really change anything,” Mattingly said. “We just have to execute, that’s all.”

Personally, I fall somewhere between the baseball traditionalists and the sabermetric tribe, which enables me to upset both camps equally. Call it a gift.

I’m fine with pitchers bunting, or even lousy hitters. I’m good with bunting the tying or winning run over from first with no outs.

But I can’t abide with bunting a runner over from second. He is already in scoring position. He will likely score on a base hit. Why give up an out just for one shot at a sacrifice fly?

I’d rather have two shots at driving him in. Two legitimate hitters to send in the tying or winning runs.

Down 2-1 in the seventh with runners on first and second and nobody out, Mattingly called on Juan Uribe – that great bunter of our time – to put one down. He did, right in front of the plate, which the Giants turned into a double play.A.J. Ellis popped up and that was that.

Again in the eighth, the Dodgers, had runners at first and second and nobody out and Mattingly called on Mark Ellis to bunt. Which he did perfectly to advance the runners.

Trouble was, this immediately took the bat out of the hands of the current best hitter in the National League. Matt Kemp, naturally, was intentionally walked. Left-hander Javier Lopez was brought in to face Andre Ethier, who promptly hit into an inning-ending double play.

Two great scoring chances, and nothing. Just a sacrificed opportunity.

 “You can write it however you want,” Mattingly said. “I’m going to bunt the guys over and put the two RBI guys up there.

 “I’m still giving two guys a chance. The way I look at it, I don’t even need a hit there. I just got to get a ball in the air.”

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The Dodgers, Don Mattingly and the great sacrifice

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