With the game still knotted at two apiece, the Cardinals started off on the right foot leading off the bottom of the seventh against Dodgers starter Zack Greinke. Yadier Molina, who hit .319 during the regular season, led off with a single to left field.
Molina, as you are likely well aware of, is not very fleet of foot, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered Jon Jay to attempt to bunt Molina to second base. Instead, Jay bunted back to Greinke, who fired to second for the force out at second. It was questionable because Molina’s lack of speed makes it so Jay has to lay down a great bunt for the idea to be executed properly. Then, even if the bunt is successful, Molina isn’t fast enough to score from second base on most singles.
Bunting decisions get lambasted probably more than is warranted, but this is certainly one instance where it is deserved. It’s true that successfully bunting Molina moves a runner into scoring position while removing the double play possibility, but outs are a precious limited resource and they shouldn’t be burned simply because your lead-off base runner is slow.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.