Of Oakland, CA, Gertrude Stein once wrote, “there’s no there, there.” But there might be bunting. The A’s winning a 1-0 game on a Marcu Scutaro bunt provided a few commentators this morning (WFAN’s Gary Cohen and Howie Rose amongst them) with cause to wonder if “Moneyball” was out and “Billyball” (of the Martin variety, not Beane) was in vogue. Which is overstating things a bit.
Rich Harden and Jarrod Washburn were done and retreated to their respective clubhouses after a terrific pitching duel. When the 10th inning rolled around, there was still no score, and no sign of this one ending. Swisher, however, began with a single to left, and manager Ken Macha, not surprisingly, had Marco Scutaro bunting.
The sacrifice was good, but reliever Scot Shields made it better. First, he bobbled the ball, then he acted as if it was a hand grenade and chucked it at the feet of second baseman Chone Figgins, covering first base.
The ball bounded into foul territory and Swisher was on the move, rounding third, knowing full well that the man about to pick up the ball has almost undisputedly the best arm in baseball.
“We were just talking about that,” Swisher said. “As soon as I hit the bag, Kotsay was telling me to slide. That was a huge win. That was an unbelievably pitched game. That’s the best I’ve seen Harden pitch, either on TV or in person. Washburn was so good we were wondering if the dugout if he was throwing an ‘Invisiball.'”
The A’s, near the bottom of the American League in sacrifices last season, worked diligently on bunting in spring training. With their offense scoring barely three runs a game, this could be life as they know it for a while.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s nice to have luck,” Swisher (above) said. “It seems like things have not been going our way lately. Scutaro laid down an unbelievable bunt. We’re happy to have a win like that.”
The Angels, however, believed Scutaro was running inside the base line and interfered with Shields.
“We didn’t get the call and he screened Figgins and Shields,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “If he fields the ball he has plenty of time to get him out.”
Shields knew he had cost his team a chance to win.
“It was my fault,” he said. “I didn’t field the ball cleanly. (Scutaro) was in my way. I tried to get it over him. It’s a play we work on all the time in spring training. To lose a game like that, especially the way Washburn pitched, it hurts inside.”
Said Scutaro, “I guess they’ve got to watch the replay. … What do you want?”
Former Round Rock pitcher Kirk Saarloos is having a tough time with the Angels today, having already been hammered by Vladimir Guerrero for a 2 run HR in the 1st.