THE MOST PUZZLING criticism comes from the fact that with runners on second base and first base in the eighth inning, Baker had Brandon Phillips bunt to move the runners to second and third. Of course, the Angels walked Joey Votto intentionally, which raised the howls, “Because Dusty took the bat out of Votto’s hands.”
Well, that’s merely Baseball 101, especially on this day. And wasn’t that an oh-fer hanging around Votto’s neck after the game?
... And Baker had a legitimate explanation for ordering Phillips to bunt.
“Even if I don’t bunt with Brandon they’d probably walk Joey, pitch around him, anyway,” he said. “We couldn’t take a chance on Brandon hitting into a double play. If Brandon has one fault, it is hitting into double plays because he hits the ball hard on the ground a lot.”
Phillips led the team last year in GIDP’s with 19 and hit into 15, 14 and 21 the previous three years. He did it 26 times in 2007.
“The game was a lesson in futility on both sides as far as scoring runs,” said Baker. “A tough day for both sides — a bunch of strikeouts, missed opportunities.
“Leaving runners on based plagued us early last year and this spring (during exhibition games),” he added. “It seems like it is all over baseball, not just us leaving runners on third with less than two outs. Strikeouts get you nothing and we just have to get better at putting the ball in play. There are those who say strikeouts aren’t important, but they are important if you want to play winning baseball.”