10 years ago today: Ben Davis breaks an unwritten rule

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May 26, 2001

With Arizona’s Curt Schilling bidding for a perfect game, Ben Davis drops down a bunt single in the eighth inning, giving the Padres their first baserunner of the contest.

The Diamondbacks were up 2-0 at the time, and there was much debate about Davis’ play afterwards.  Given that it brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the frame, it sure seemed like a smart move from Davis.  However, many Diamondbacks veterans disagreed and manager Bob Brenly called it “chicken.”

Working from the stretch for the first time all day, Schilling walked the next batter he faced, Bubba Trammell, before retiring Dave Magadan and Mike Darr to end the inning.  After a Reggie Sanders homer in the top of the ninth gave the Diamondbacks a 3-0 lead, Schilling gave up two clean hits and a sac fly in the bottom of the ninth before winning 3-1.

What may surprise many is that Schilling, who never did get his no-hitter (while pitching for the Red Sox in 2007, he lost one against the A’s with two outs in the ninth), didn’t much to say about it at the time.  Asked on Twitter about the incident earlier this year, he wrote:

Ben Davis bunt? I never uttered a word beyond “It was surprising”, left it to others to judge. Didn’t care beyond the W, but I had insane stuff that night, hit a gnats ass, split was dropping a foot, couldn’t miss spots, happened about 5 times in my life, no bunt and imo no no

As for Davis, the second overall pick in the 1995 draft, the bunt is what he’s best known for 10 years later.  He last played in the majors at age 27 in 2004.  In 2008, he tried taking his powerful arm to the mound, and he went 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League in 2010.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.