Zach Walters hits a go-ahead two-run homer in extra innings after failing to get bunt down
Whenever there's a runner on second and nobody out, Hawk Harrelson reflexively says the hitter at the plate "has a job to do." That means the hitter's primary responsibility is advancing the runner.
Adam Eaton came to the plate in such a situation -- actually, runners on first and second with nobody out -- in the seventh inning, with the White Sox trailing 6-5. Despite facing a right-handed pitcher ... despite hitting a league-best .385 with runners in scoring position ... despite delivering an RBI single earlier in the game ... Eaton squared around to bunt three times. He took the first one, fouled off the second one, and successfully sacrificed on the third try to advance both runners.
Alexei Ramirez came through with an RBI groundout to tie the game, but after an intentional walk to Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia grounded out to end the inning. The Sox played for one run. They scored exactly one run.
Compare that to the 10th inning, when Lonnie Chisenhall led off with a pinch-hit double off Jake Petricka. Up came lefty Zach Walters, who showed bunt, then swung away, then tried bunting again, and ended up with a 3-2 count on him. Forced to swing away, he got a grooved 96-mph fastball from Petricka and crushed it over the patio in right for a go-ahead two-run shot that made the difference.
So, which player did his job better?
Also, here's where we note that the White Sox entered tonight hitting a league-worst .141/.208/.239 over 79 plate appearances with a runner on second and nobody out.
And here's where we note that the Indians entered tonight hitting a league-best .310/.437/.586 over 82 plate appearances with a runner on second and nobody out.
Let's change the job description already.
*Eaton helped the offense function better. While he just went 1-for-4 with the bunt, Alexei Ramirez thrived in the second slot with a 2-for-5 night, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning.
*He also joined the corner outfielders in plays not made. Garcia and Dayan Viciedo each pulled up short on balls in the corner on back-to-back doubles, leading to a run in the second, and Eaton let a sinking liner get past him after trying to pull a glove deke to score two Indians in the sixth. At least Eaton made up for some of his mistake by gunning down a runner at home.
*The White Sox grounded into three double plays, including an inning-ender by Dayan Viciedo after Terry Francona went to the bullpen for righty Scott Atchison. Alejandro De Aza was available to pinch-hit, but Robin Ventura stuck with Viciedo in another move that could be first-guessed.
*That double play compounded problems, since Avisail Garcia led off with a double that should've been a triple. He didn't see Tyler Holt let the ball get past him in the corner, and he slid into second when he could've continued on to third standing up.
*Jose Quintana was lucky to receive a no-decision this time. He was off from the start, and stumbled to an ugly line: 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
*Maikel Cleto came in after Petricka blew the save and struck out the side in dominating fashion, even though it didn't make a difference.