Big League Stew

Gutsy call: Nats shake off scare, succeed on second squeeze attempt

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Squeeze

There's a reason it's called a suicide squeeze. Just ask Michael Morse of the Washington Nationals, a Final Vote candidate, who saw his life flash before his eyes in the seventh inning of a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

Stationed at third base as the go-ahead run, Morse received the suicide squeeze sign from third base coach Bo Porter. As he began his charge down the line, he quickly realized that Wilson Ramos, the Nationals batter in this critical situation, was not bunting.

The hearts of the 19,631 in attendance, as well those watching at home, skipped a beat. All Morse could do at that point was cover his head and turn sideways as Ramos took a full, healthy cut at the Kerry Wood's first offering, fouling it straight back to the screen for strike one.

One loud and unsettling strike. Thankfully that's all it amounted to, but it still took a moment for everyone involved to collect themselves. Ramos was visited by Porter, who calmly suggested he not miss the sign next time it was given to him. Morse returned to third base and pointed skyward, thanking a higher power for sparing his life.

Meanwhile, over in the Nationals dugout, the wheels in Davey Johnson's mind were already turning.

Though admittedly not a fan of small ball, Washington's new skipper decided to go to the well one more time, signaling for another squeeze attempt two pitches after the near disaster. This time, Ramos got the message, executing the bunt perfectly. And this time, Morse crossed the plate safely with the decisive run.

Here's a look at the successful squeeze: {YSP:MORE}

Good call, skip. But honestly, what possessed you to give the squeeze a second chance, especially against a pitcher like Wood, who was struggling to find the strike zone on a consistent basis?

From the Washington Post:

"I must be brain-dead," Johnson said. "I don't think I've ever squeezed. I don't really like to bunt that much."

Fredi Gonzalez is sitting in his office at Turner Field completely appalled by that statement. I wonder what Morse thought about the decision.

"Why not put it on again?" Morse said afterward. "They probably thought in a million years he wouldn't put it on again."

That's probably true. And that's certainly an admirable stance from the man who twice put his well-being in the hands of a bat-wielding teammate, trusting he'd do the right thing.

"Man, it was scary," Morse said. "But you know what? In the end, it worked out. He got the bunt down."

You know what else, Michael Morse? You can play for my team anytime.

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