This is why we love baseball. In every game, it seems, you see something you haven’t quite seen before.
Like, for example, a stand-up double on a bunt.
That’s what happened Monday in a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins. In the bottom of the fifth, the Cards’ Matt Carpenter laid down a bunt that resulted in a double.
How does that happen, you ask?
It wouldn’t have been possible if the Marlins hadn’t shifted the entire left side of the infield to the right side of second base.
It’s not an uncommon tactic against the left-handed Carpenter, a dead pull hitter. In his previous at-bat, he blasted a home run into the right field seats.
The Marlins shifted Matt Carpenter as so many teams do.
Carpenter dropped a bunt toward the left side, saw this, and cruised into second with a double. pic.twitter.com/167lgJync8
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) June 18, 2019
On a 1-1 pitch with two outs, Carpenter squared around and executed a perfect bunt toward third base.
There was no one there as third baseman Brian Anderson was standing near second.
The ball rolled all the way to the outfield grass as the pitcher, Elieser Hernandez, went to track it down. By the time he got there, Carpenter was in with a stand-up double.
“It’ll be the shortest double of his career standing up,” the announcer said. “Unbelievable. Why not bunt?”
Carpenter scored when the next batter, Paul DeJong, reached on an error by second baseman Starlin Castro to make it 2-0. The Cardinals went on to win 5-0.
“I haven’t seen a bunt double to left field,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It was fantastic.”
It’s not the first time Carpenter has taken advantage of the shift.
“It’s nothing new,” he said, reported the Post-Dispatch. “Every time they shift me with less than two strikes I bunt. I’m surprised that they did it because it’s in the books. If it’s less than two strikes and there’s nobody over there, I bunt every single time.”
It was the first bunt double in the majors since the Kansas City Royals’ Alcides Escobar did it in 2015, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported.
Last bunt double in the big leagues before Matt Carpenter last night:
This Alcides Escobar bunt pop-up on 7/7/15https://t.co/YoPBj44DTQ
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 18, 2019
“I had a pretty good feeling … just because I saw the way they were communicating and the shortstop was pretty adamant about it being the pitcher’s ball,” Carpenter said.
He followed the bunt double with an infield single in the eighth inning.
Miles Mikolas (5-7) got the win for St. Louis. He pitched a gem, allowing no runs in six innings of work.
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