The Orioles looked terrible in the first series of the 2018 season, yet it's the Twins who should be embarrassed with themselves.
Minnesota dominated the O's all series, winning two out of three games, with the only loss coming in extra innings.
They still somehow managed to leave Baltimore angry after rookie Orioles catcher Chance Sisco laid down a perfect bunt to beat the shift in the 9th-inning of Jose Berrios' one-hitter on Sunday afternoon.
It's important to clarify that it was already a one-hitter entering the 9th inning. Fittingly, it was Chance Sisco who picked up the Orioles first and only hit up until that point, an opposite-field double.
If Berrios had been working on a no-hitter or a perfect game, then the unwritten rules of not laying down a bunt in the 9th inning are a lot more clear.
As a quick aside, the unwritten rules are still garbage even during a no-hitter, as it's not the responsibility of the Orioles to care whether or not an opposing pitcher is going for history. Their only priority is to try to win the game. But still, there is an established history of players "respecting the game" in moments like that.
As I said, this was not one of those moments. History was not on the line, yet the Twins were shocked that an opposing hitter would try to get on base. I mean, the nerve of that guy, right? Doing his job like that? Unconscionable.
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If one Twin had made an offhand comment, it likely would have gone unnoticed. Instead the entire locker room chimed in to admonish Sisco, and one Twins media member suggested Sisco should look out for a "fastball to the earhole" when the two teams meet again.
Twins were not thrilled with Chance Sisco bunting for a hit in 9th with Berrios working on a one-hitter with a 6-run lead.— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) April 1, 2018
Dozier: “Obviously, we’re not a fan of it. He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at 2nd base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there."
Jose Berrios on Chance Sisco's bunt in the ninth: “I don’t care if he’s bunting. I just know it’s not good for baseball in that situation. That’s it.”— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) April 1, 2018
Given a chance to rethink his comments, Twins second basemen Brian Dozier doubled down the following day, saying that people were missing the fact that the Twins didn't steal up 7 in the top of the 9th.
Thankfully, it appears the Twins themselves are the only ones who think this should be an issue. Dozier, Berrios, and Eddie Rosario all commented on Sisco's bunt, yet the overwhelming majority of responses from other fanbases and media members has been in support of Sisco's bunt.
Don’t want Sisco bunting there? Don’t shift on the kid in the 9th inning with a big lead. Wasn’t a no-hitter. And didn’t know Os were supposed to take a knee there and board the charter to Houston. Also, lose the “fastball in earhole” crap. Thanks— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) April 1, 2018
More from that player: “It’s like a guy stealing a base down by 7. If you’re playing behind him and not holding him on, that’s bush league. But if you’re holding him on, it’s fair game.” https://t.co/LGTCz6iBKr— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 2, 2018
If a batter isn't "allowed" to bunt for a hit down 7-0, then why is the defense "allowed" to put a shift on him? Jose Berrios pitched great, the Twins won their first series of the season, and they're all upset about an opponent ... trying to get on base. https://t.co/WN4zV9Cb9E— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) April 1, 2018
If you don't want a batter to reach base, get him out. If you don't want a batter to bunt, don't put an extreme shift on that leaves a big chunk of the field empty. And if you can't get a batter out, and he bunted against your extreme shift, then don't act like he's in the wrong.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) April 1, 2018
Frankly, it doesn't matter what position the defense was in, as Sisco's sole job as a major league hitter is to get on base. That said, it's been pointed out plenty of times that the Twins were in an extreme defensive shift, leaving third base wide open. They thought the game was competitive enough that they strategicially attempted to gain an advantage by breaking from traditional defensive alignment, yet they have a problem with the opposing hitter thinking the game was competitive enough that he strategically attempted to gain an advantage by bunting? Miss me with that.
Even ignoring game situation, there are plenty of good reasons for Sisco to lay down a bunt. As a young player trying to prove himself in the big leagues, anything he can do to get on base is good for his career. Plus, he is likely going to continue facing the shift on a regular basis, so practicing getting down a bunt during a game is valuable.
It even makes sense considering the Twins specifically. Maybe next time the two teams play each other, the Twins won't shade so far off the bag, remembering that Sisco has the ability to drop down a perfect bunt. And maybe the extra space that provides is enough for him to squeak a hit through in a more meaningful at-bat.
The point is, all unwritten rules are pretty dumb. And if we're going to start playing that card in situations that make no logical sense? Baseball is going to continue to lose young fans.
Jose Berrios said "I know it's just not good for baseball in that situation," and he's absolutely right. Complaining about a young hitter trying to get on base, which again is, you know, his job, is definitely not good for baseball.