Don't Bunt to Break Up a No-Hitter, Felix Hernandez, Julio Borbon

Bunt on King Felix? Preposterous!

It’s perpetually incredible that major league players can be unclear on the sport’s primary unwritten rules. Some claim complete ignorance, some apathy. Some are simply too green to have heard of them.

Occasionally, however, a player will think he knows the rules when in fact he’s a bit hazier on the topic than he’d care to admit.

Take Felix Hernandez, who, in the middle of a would be no-hitter against Texas on Friday, got up on his high horse about a Code violation that wasn’t really a violation at all.

Julio Borbon bunted.

We hear it frequently: Don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter. Give a pitcher your best effort, because enduring mound performances deserve no less. The concept rose to prominence in 2001, when Padres catcher Ben Davis broke up Curt Schilling’s perfect game with a bunt, and all hell broke loose from the Arizona clubhouse.

“You shouldn’t do that,” Hernandez said in the Everett Herald, about Borbon’s effort. “Sixth inning and a guy is throwing a no-hitter, it’s disrespect.”

It’s a decent rule, especially if it’s late in the game (as was the case with Davis) and the guy bunting doesn’t make ordinary practice of the tactic (as was also the case with Davis).

Borbon, however, has some speed. And the game was still in the middle innings.

More importantly, the Rangers trailed only 2-0 at the time. Borbon’s effort, had it been successful, would have brought the tying run to the plate, something the rest of his teammates had been unable to do to that point in the game.

In this case (and in that of Davis, who also bunted facing a 2-0 deficit), winning trumps all. Do what you must to win the game.

We’ve seen the tactic unsuccessfully attempted at least twice this year, by Gordon Beckham (against Chicago’s Ted Lilly, whose no-no was broken up later in the game) and Evan Longoria (in the middle of Dallas Braden’s perfect game).

The guy who had it absolutely correct: Borbon.

“What was I supposed to do, let him have it his way?” he said in an report. “I realize he was throwing a no-hitter, but I wasn’t getting out of my game. If the game was one-sided it might be different, but in a close game like that, it could be a difference-maker.

“I was trying to get it down and get something going. I wasn’t worried about the no-hitter. If we were down six, seven eight runs, I’m going to swing the bat. But down 2-0 in the sixth inning, I don’t think I was being disrespectful to him or the game or to anybody. I was trying to do something for the team.”

Just like he was supposed to.

– Jason

4 thoughts on “Bunt on King Felix? Preposterous!

  1. Hey Jason,

    I was waiting for this one! I knew the second Bourbon did this, you’d do a write-up on this one. I absolutely agree that Bourbon had it right. I thought it was funny that Hernandez was whining about it after reportedly telling his teammates and anyone who would listen that he would throw one this year.

    The complaint is just sour grapes to me.


    1. Thanks, Chris. Even though the Schilling situation shouldn’t have drawn so much attention (it was 2-0, so all bets are off), it’s easy to see how it did (it was late in the game, Davis wasn’t a bunter, and he actually did come up with San Diego’s first hit).

      Hernandez, though, barely has a leg to stand on, short of being heated and irrational when speaking to reporters after the game.

      As Jarrod Washburn said when his own no-hitter was broken up by a Ben Zobrist bunt in 2006, “Bunting is just part of the game, and he was just trying to make something happen.”

  2. I was at this game, and I booed him, then commented to my dad that this is a guy who bunts regularly, and it’s only the sixth inning, and the game is close, so it’s really not boo-worthy.

    Still, I’d have been pissed if he’d broken up the no-no with it. I can be both rational and fanatical simultaneously.

    Figured you’d have a post on this. Curse you for being right! 🙂

  3. Wins are still important for the Rangers at this point, there’s still a chance that they could finish with a better record than the Twins or the Yanks/Rays (though not a good chance). Gotta go for the win, and it’s totally part of Bourbon’s game to bunt. If this had been the 8th or 9th inning, could be a different story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s