Wetmore: 5 thoughts, bunts, blasts, shifts, cutting down on walks
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MINNEAPOLIS - Carlos Santana bunted for a base hit and hit a long home run as part of his four hits Tuesday against the Twins. The Indians scored four runs off Matt Guerrier in the 9th inning and won, 8-2.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Tuesday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Danny Salazar walked the bases loaded with one out in the second inning. But Sam Fuld and Danny Santana struck out to strand all three runners. Salazar had struck out Josh Willingham before the three consecutive walks, so he struck out the side in the same inning he walked the bases loaded.
2. Carlos Santana bunted with two outs to beat a Twins shift in the third inning. The switch hitter was batting right handed and the Twins had the infield swung around expecting Santana to pull the ball to the right side. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe was closer to the shortstop position than his ordinary spot at third base. Santana squared around and bunted for a base hit. Santana is not much of a stolen base threat, and Lonnie Chisenhall flied out to center field on the first pitch of his plate appearance to end the inning.
A similar incident caused a stir in baseball this week when Colby Rasmus bunted for a base hit with two outs against Colby Lewis. Lewis was not happy that Rasmus didn't attempt to put himself in scoring position with two outs, and posited that Rasmus was being selfish by trying to raise his average.
The old baseball wisdom says that a player must try to get into scoring position if there are two outs. That's because it would either take two hits or an extra base hit to score him from first, but only one hit to the outfield if he's in scoring position. Sometimes you'll see a player who walks or singles with two outs attempt to steal second base to put himself in scoring position. This is what Lewis was expecting. After Rasmus' bunt, Lewis shouted to first base to tell Rasmus to "swing the bat."
My opinion is that if you're going to shift against a player like Santana, you should not be offended when he puts himself on base, regardless of how he does it. Sure, it might take an extra-base hit or multiple hits to score him. But if he doesn't get on base the inning is over and it's much harder to score a run when the other team is batting.
3. The Twins shifted Santana again in the fifth inning and he blasted a 415-foot home run to right field. It landed at the base of the flag poles on the plaza beyond the right field seats, or perhaps even farther than that. That's one way to beat a shift that shouldn't offend anybody.
4. The next half inning Brian Dozier also bunted for a base hit to lead off the Twins half of the third inning with the Indians infield playing standard depth. Unlike Santana, there was no exaggerated shift against Dozier, but he said he's seen third baseman start to play him deep at third base after the first pitch. He said he intends to use his speed and add more bunting to his game if that's how third basemen continue to play him.
In the 7th inning, Dozier hit a solo home run to left field, his 19th of the year, a new career high for the Twins second baseman. The blast also meant the two players who had the hits that traveled the shortest also hit the balls that traveled the farthest Tuesday.
5. Yohan Pino didn't walk a batter Tuesday, a stark contrast to his most recent start at Triple-A Rochester. Pino lasted just 5 innings on July 17 for the Red Wings. He walked seven batters, struck out six and gave up five runs.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he asked Pino when he got the ballpark Monday why he had walked so many batters in that start, "and he said he was just working on a few things," Gardenhire said with a smirk.
"We'll leave it at that," Gardenhire said. "We'll just throw that one out in the minor leagues as maybe too much travel or whatever and hopefully he'll pitch well [Tuesday]."
Pino pitched 6 1/3 innings Tuesday and gave up four earned runs on seven hits. He struck out five and didn't walk anybody. It looked like he was in trouble early, when he allowed the first three runners to reach base in the second inning. All three eventually scored, but those runs and Santana's blast were all the runs Cleveland scored against Pino.
5b. The Indians tacked on four more against Matt Guerrier, who threw just 13 of his 30 pitches for strikes (with an intentional walk mixed in). He said he's fine physically, he just couldn't throw a strike when he needed to Tuesday.
--Additional reading: Supply and demand as it relates to the trade market and the Twins.