All those extra inning losses when it seems the outcome would have been different if only the Rangers would have bunted were explained away that bunting isn’t really a successful strategy. Giving away an out with a runner in scoring position isn’t smart. Let your hitters hit away.
That defense is followed with a reminder that the Rangers are 5-23 in one-run games.
Why does a team bunt? For one run.
Last night, the Rangers actually attempted a sacrifice bunt. Guess what? It worked.
Tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth, Leody Taveras singled. Traditional Rangers strategy is to strikeout, pop up, then ground out, stranding the runner at first. (Three strikeouts often does the trick.)
Last night, Chris Woodward pulled out his copy of Baseball 101. He had Nick Solak bunt. It worked.
Taveras was now on second with one out. Ezequiel Duran singled. The Rangers scored. They take a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth.
Then the Mariners got a crack at it. After a leadoff single, Cal Raleigh, the newest Ranger Killer, replacing the Mariners former Ranger Killer Kyle Seager, doubled in the tying run.
Suddenly, the situation was like extra innings. Tie game. A runner on second. Nobody out.
What did Mariners manager Scott Servais do? Did he borrow from the Rangers playbook and try to dumbguy the runner home with a strikeout, a popup, then a fly out?
No, he bunted. With a runner in scoring position. He gave up an out to move the runner up.
Why? Because there are many more ways to score a runner from third than there are from second.
For instance, a sacrifice fly. Which, after two intentional walks to load the bases, the Mariners got.
They won 5-4. Fueled by a bunt. After being down 4-3 because the Rangers scored in the top of the ninth. Fueled by a bunt.
Let that be a lesson to Chris Woodward.
Oh, and he might need a new closer.