One of the greater complaints against Bobby Valentine has been his willingness to use the sacrifice bunt in situations that do not truly call for it this year. With 21 of them on the season, the Sox come in second in the American League, giving away outs at a rather distressing pace.
But even the staunchest opponent of bunts will usually acknowledge that there are some situations that call for it. Which makes it all-the-more confusing why Bobby Valentine did not elect to play for a run in the tenth inning of last night's game against the Mariners.
With the game locked in a 2-2 tie, the Sox picked up leadoff singles from Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz two put two men on with no outs in the inning. Up stepped Jarrod Saltalamacchia, needing just to move the runners along. Unfortunately, Salty is exactly who you don't want in that situation. A free-swinging power bat, Salty can bring in a run at any time, but is inconsistent in his ability to put the bat on the ball. Had the bunt been on, that would not have been nearly so much of an issue, and Adrian Gonzalez could have stepped up to the plate knowing he needed just a fly ball to make the 1-2-3 bottom of the tenth a game-ender. The ground ball eventually booted by Dustin Ackley would even have been enough.
Instead, Saltalamacchia struck out, as he is wont to do, and Gonzalez' ground ball only moved Dustin Pedroia to third. With another ground ball from Will Middlebrooks, the inning was over.
It was a game ruined by Boston's lack of clutch hitting, but one that probably could've been salvaged had Bobby V simply stayed true to his worst strategies in the rare situation where they actually made sense. Instead, he bafflingly went off-script, and the Sox dropped another game as a result.