The sacrifice bunt has fallen out of favor over the last decade or two, a result of analytics proving that the value of avoiding an out is far greater than the value of advancing a runner one base.
This has been proven across all levels of professional baseball, but in the high-scoring Pacific Coast League giving up an out is even more costly. Teams are going to score more by swinging away.
Yesterday, we had a rare exception to the rule: Sacramento beat Tacoma in a 1-0 game, and the lone run may not have scored if it weren’t for a successful sacrifice bunt.
It was 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh when the River Cats opened the inning getting back-to-back singles from Isan Diaz and Austin Dean. With runners at first and second, Ka’ai Tom dropped a sacrifice bunt down on the third base line. Erick Mejia threw out Tom at first base, the runners moved up and were now at second and third with one out.
Wyatt Mathisen followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Diaz with what turned out to be the only run of the day. The next hitter made an out, ending the inning – so if Diaz had not been at third base on Mathisen’s fly ball to center, he would not have scored. The sacrifice bunt put him there.
Now you might say “What if Ka’ai Tom had swung away. He could have hit a two-run double!” and that’s true, we’ll never know. But the bunt was instrumental in the rally that scored the only run yesterday.
YESTERDAY: Sacramento beat Tacoma, 1-0, as six River Cats pitchers combined on a three-hitter. It was just the third time this season that Tacoma has been shut out, and the first time since May 18. Konner Wade started for Tacoma and pitched five scoreless innings. Rehabbers Taylor Trammell (1-for-3 with a double) and Mitch Haniger (0-for-3 with a walk) continued to progress.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (44-56) at Sacramento River Cats (43-58), 6:45.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Francisco Giants.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Dave Brundage.
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 8-6.
PITCHERS: RHP Chris Mazza (1-3, 8.56) at RHP Norwith Gudino (2-4, 9.33)
ROSTER MOVES: More rehabilitating Mariners are on their way. Newly acquired pitcher Matthew Boyd is expected to throw a live batting practice session for Tacoma soon, eventually getting into some games. Catcher Curt Casali is anticipated soon as well.
HOT HITTERS: Taylor Trammell is 3-for-9 in the first three games of his rehabilitation assignment… not a hitter, but reliever Danny Young has allowed just one earned run in his last 14 appearances, spanning 13.2 innings pitched – we should find out if he cleared waivers shortly.
OPPONENT NEWS: The River Cats completed a nine-game road trip on Sunday, going 0-3 at Oklahoma City and then 2-4 at Round Rock… they have lost ten of the last 13 games overall… catcher Andrew Knapp signed with Sacramento after the Mariners designated him for assignment, and he homered in four straight games coming into the series, winning the PCL Player of the Week award… former Rainiers and Mariners infielder Donovan Walton is on the Sacramento roster, but he has not played since the all-star break… Austin Dean had an 11-game hitting streak end on Sunday; he has reached base safely in 14 straight games.
BROADCAST: All games will be broadcast free on a live audio stream which is available right here.
Unfortunately, there is no traditional terrestrial radio station carrying the games at this time.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to broadcasts and Gameday screens right here.