I can’t help tossing my hat into the ring over this silly debate about Lucas Duda dropping down a successful sacrifice bunt in the eight inning of last night’s 5-4 win over the Padres.
With the Mets down by a run and nobody out, Duda came to the plate with runners on first and second and dropped down a beauty of a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners to second and third.
It’s a play that is as old as the game itself, and yet there are those who would prefer to get rid of the sacrifice bunt altogether. Hogwash.
The bunt made perfect sense and I applaud Duda for thinking rationally and playing the game the way it was intended.
What happened next was an intentional walk to Jason Bay and then a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Nick Evans to drive home the tying run. Ronny Paulino and Ruben Tejada would walk as well, forcing home David Wright with the winning run. Mission Accomplished.
Yes, Duda was the clean-up hitter, and yes, Duda is built like the Incredible Hulk, but no, he did not commit a rookie mistake, and no, it was not a terrible decision.
The Mets were playing small-ball and many a game and a World Series title has been won playing small ball. I wish Angel Pagan, Daniel Murphy and Jose Reyes had the baseball IQ and smarts to do what Lucas Duda did last night.
You would think most Mets fans would understand by now that Citi Field’s dimensions were made for small ball. You would think most Mets fans would look at the team stats and see that not one player has reached double-digits in home runs yet.
And even if you were oblivious to the vastness of Citi Field or that the Mets RBI leader is on pace for a 68 RBI season, how can you ignore the fact that Lucas Duda’s career OPS against LHP is .589 compared to .787 against RHP? Small sample size maybe, but that’s been the case his entire professional career and Duda is the first one to admit it.
“You’ve got Jason Bay behind me, and Nick Evans,” Duda said. “Those guys are more than capable of getting the job done. It was a tough lefty on the mound, lefty-on-lefty, and I’m not exactly smashing lefties this year.”
So Duda walked up to the plate, looked up at scoreboard and saw the Mets desperately needed a run, rather than risk striking out or worse yet grounding into a double play, he squared his bat and decided to do what he thought would give the Mets the best chance to win and then executed that plan to perfection.
Even Duda’s own manager could see the greatness of that one singular age-old baseball moment and the foresight behind Duda’s decision,
“That’s what makes this kid really, in my opinion, special,” Collins said. “He is head and shoulders above any 21-year-olds or any 20-year-olds in the big leagues today, as far as thought process.”
Is the sacrifice bunt still relevant in baseball?
You bet your ass it is, and last night was clear and convincing evidence of it.
Last night was baseball like it oughta be!