With the Giants trailing the Astros by one run in the 11th inning Sunday and a runner on first base Miguel Tejada was summoned off the bench to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
Tejada successfully advanced the runner to second base, but Aaron Rowand and Mike Fontenot stranded him, the Giants eventually lost 4-3, and yesterday Tejada explained that he was both surprised and unhappy to get the bunt sign:
I shook my head. I was thinking I was sent up to hit. After that, I did my job. I put the bunt down. I’m not the only guy who was surprised yesterday to see the bunt sign. I just work here. Whatever the manager tells me to do, I gotta do. I respect the manager and the team and my teammates. He tells me to do it, I’ll do it. If that’s the way I’m going to help the team, I’ll do it.
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Tejada initially shook his head “no” several times when he saw the bunt sign from third-base coach Tim Flannery and “didn’t run hard to first.” Tejada indicated to reporters that leg soreness kept him from hustling on the play, but then said the injury was “nothing to worry about.”
Tejada also questioned why the manager didn’t send a pitcher to the plate to bunt, as if laying down a sacrifice in the 11th inning of a crucial late-season game should be off limits for a guy hitting .237 with a .268 on-base percentage and .324 slugging percentage. Just one more reason why signing Tejada to a $6 million deal was among the worst moves of the offseason.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.