A bunt broke up a no-hitter last night. Is it the right baseball play?
In the unwritten rules of baseball, there is one that seems to never have a good answer: Can you bunt to break up a no-hitter? On one hand, you can understand the pitcher's feeling. He’s trying to etch his name into the annals of baseball history. He's been dealing all day and no one has been able to make solid contact with a swing all day, so a bunt -- a little squibber out in front of the plate -- is a type of cop out.
On the other, a bunt is a hit. It's just as legitimate as any other hit. And if a team is trying to win the game, wouldn't you want them to get on base any way possible?
Well, this question went from a philosophical debate to a very real one on Wednesday night. In the ninth inning of the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats-Trenton Thunder game, the Yard Goats were working on a combined no-no. Starting pitcher Rico Garcia had pitched six innings, with relievers Jordan Foley and Logan Cozart bridging the way to Ben Bowden in the ninth.
With one out, Trenton's Matt Lipka came to the plate.
Now, his options were: Swing for a hit, or ... bunt for a hit. Lipka chose the bunt. It rolled back to Bowden, giving the pitcher a chance to keep the no-hitter intact. He tried the glove flip and ... failed.
That would be the only hit the Thunder recorded that night, so, sure enough, when the game was over, there were some words exchanged on the field.
Aftermath of a near fight at the end of the @GoYardGoats and @TrentonThunder game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. 3-0 win for the Goats allowing only one hit as a team. #NoGoatsNoGlory #Pride #NBCCT @NBCConnecticut @GLucivero pic.twitter.com/N1QL5XUWFo— Paul Ross (@RealPaulRoss) June 5, 2019
But should there have been an argument? Does this break an unwritten rule? Or is bunting to break up the no-hitter totally OK?
Here are a few things to consider:
There were four pitchers used by the Yard Goats. Is it OK to break up a combined no-no with a bunt, but not if one single pitcher is trying to make his mark on history?
The game was close -- only three runs separating the two. That meant the Thunder were within striking distance and needed baserunners.
Personally, unless the Yard Goats had decided to pack it in for the day and were up by about 15, then I say all's fair. A bunt is a hit, just like any other. If they weren't able to field the bunt and throw the runner out, then it's no different than if a bloop single fell over the shortstop's head. But what say you?
Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.