Let’s flashback all the way back to, well… one day ago.
The Cardinals were trailing the Cubs 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Both Stephen Piscotty and Matt Adams hit singles to put two runners on with nobody out. Just like that, the Cardinals were in a prime position to win the game, or at the very least, tie it. Up next was catcher Yadier Molina, facing off against Cubs’ closer Hector Rondon.
At that moment, manager Mike Matheny made the decision to have Molina hit a sacrifice bunt that would (in theory), advance both runners into scoring position.
However, Molina entered the game with a batting average of .304, an on-base percentage of .375, and a .411 slugging percentage. Prior to the at-bat, Molina also had an average of .368 with runners in scoring position this season with a .442 OBP and .500 SLG.
One last notable stat regarding the situation: during the past three seasons, the veteran catcher has had TWO successful sacrifice bunts out of 1,700 plate appearance. Two. He attempted eight sacrifice bunts over the last three years, failing six times.
The first two strikes thrown by Rondon to Molina were failed sacrifice bunt attempts. Just like that he had two strikes against him, with two runners on and nobody out. The end result? He struck out.
Up next came Randal Grichuk, who also struck out.
Last but not least came Jedd Gyorko, and while he almost reached base on a close play at first, in the end, the Cardinals failed to rally against the top team in the National League. The loss dropped them to 24-23 on the season, leaving many fans frustrated.
For the remainder of the night, and into Thursday, people still were questioning the decision making on the part of Matheny having Molina try to bunt. But the bottom-line is this: a coaching mistake, and an unsuccessful attempted bunt simmered down the momentum St. Louis had going for them in the ninth, and eventually played a role in their loss.
Live and learn. That’s all one can do.