Curt Schilling Diamondbacks

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.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.