Among the many squandered opportunities with a runner on third base and fewer than two outs this weekend, yesterday’s Javy Baez bunt was among the more bothersome.
Kyle Schwarber was on third base, and Jason Heyward on first, with the game tied at zero and one out in the 4th inning. Baez was up with the pitcher on deck, and pushed a bunt far too hard up the first baseline, leaving Schwarber in no man’s land down the third baseline. What was odd was if it were a suicide squeeze or a safety squeeze, even given how hard Baez bunted it, Schwarber should have scored easily.
But he didn’t come particularly close, as you can see here.
There was a good reason for that, it turns out, as Schwarber didn’t know a bunt was coming. Joe Maddon said after the game that Baez had seen a sign that wasn’t there (ESPN) – he thought he was told to bunt, but there was no bunt sign. Just swing away.
With the pitcher on deck and two runners on base, it would have been a strange spot to call for a squeeze, but it would not have been utterly insane, given the Cubs’ inability to get those runners home and Baez’s strikeout proclivities. Still, at that point in the game, you’d probably just rather see Baez taking his hacks.
As for the missed sign, I suppose you’ll have that early on with a new third base coach. Of course, even if Baez thought he was supposed to bunt, he probably could have laid one down a little more gently instead of – what appeared like – trying to bunt for a hit while also scoring the run. Then again, since Schwarber wasn’t expecting a squeeze, maybe a “good” bunt would have simple left Schwarber standing at third while Baez was thrown out.
The whole play, it seems, was kind of a mess from beginning to end. At least we can say today that it wasn’t a strategic blunder. Just a miscommunication. Nobody wanted it – not Joe Maddon, not Javy Baez, not Kyle Schwarber, and not the fans. Moving on.