The St. Louis Cardinals came away with a NLCS Game 1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers much to the discredit of the Dodger’s ability to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position. If the Dodgers would have capitalized on any one of their great opportunities, the game might not have reached the bottom of the 13th inning and the Cardinals probably would not have walked off with a win. Nevertheless, the real story of the night is manager Don Mattingly’s terrible choice to have Mark Ellis lay down a sacrifice bunt in the top of the 12th inning.
Why was it a bad choice? I’m glad you asked. It was not a bad choice because Ellis bunted into a double play. In fact, quite the opposite happened. Ellis laid down a successful bunt, moving Carl Crawford into scoring position and giving the Dodgers a chance to bring home the go-ahead run with a base hit.
The reason this was a bone-headed decision is because of the small details of the situation. Ellis was great on the night, already having two hits in the game. Why take the bat out of a hot hitter’s hand and ask him to lay down his bat? Further, with Crawford safely at second and the extremely dangerous Hanley Ramirez coming up next, the Dodgers willingly served the Cardinals an opportunity to pitch around Ramirez. With a base open, the Cardinals gladly took the chance to walk Ramirez for the third time on the night and got the chance to face Michael Young who replaced Adrian Gonzalez earlier.
Mattingly should have let Ellis swing away. Worst case scenario, Ellis hits into a double play, but the Cardinals have to pitch to Ramirez. Next best case scenario, Ellis goes down and the Cardinals still have to pitch to Ramirez. Do not take the bat out of the hands of a hot hitter and your best hitter all in one stupid bunt!