Given the injuries the New York Yankees are facing and limitations those create for their offense, they would probably prefer to see Robinson Cano taking as many healthy hacks as he can muster. However, it worked out pretty well when he elected to lay down a bunt in the first inning of their 8-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. Plus it resulted in one of the stranger hits we've seen this season.
The strategy behind Cano's bunt attempt was simple: With the Red Sox infield defense shifting and expecting him to pull the ball to the right side, a good bunt down the third base line would result in an easy base hit. It's a wise strategy that we've seen used numerous times by guys such as Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies when he's struggling at the plate. We've also seen David Ortiz pull the trick out of his bag a handful of times over the years with some success along the way. But rarely do players using this strategy have the success Cano did on Friday.
Rather than lay down a bunt that he hoped would die peacefully in the grass, Cano actually put a little force behind it and ended up pushing the ball through the infield and about 60 feet beyond the third base bag. That made it a long run for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who was covering at shortstop, and left fielder Daniel Nava. With Boston's defense in front of him, Cano ran hard the whole way and made it into second base with a sliding double. Or a sliding bunt double, if you want to be more specific.
It's not a first, but bunt doubles don't come along very frequenrly. That's especially true coming from the No. 3 hitter in the batting order. They aren't paid to bunt, because you can't bunt in 100 runs every year.
That's why the Yankees' preference would be for Cano to take a couple swings for the right-field seats with two outs and nobody on base, but they can't argue with the idea or the result. Obviously Cano wanted to give Boston something to think about in terms of their shift strategy. The Red Sox wouldn't budge, though, and Cano kept finding ways around it anyway as he finished 4-for-4 with three more doubles.
The moral to this story: Unless a rule is passed that allows teams to play 13 fielders, there's no good defense for a locked in Robinson Cano. One way or another, he's going to beat you.