We have another entry in the bunting-to-break-up-a-no-hitter category only a short way into the season: Brandon Belt did it on Tuesday to ruin Patrick Corbin’s no-no in the eighth inning. It was completely aboveboard, for a host of reasons:
- It was a swinging bunt, not a squared-up affair. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo called it a check-swing, but it looked to me more like a clear push toward the left side.
- It would have been okay even if it was the buntiest of squared-up bunts, given that the game was scoreless and Belt represented the go-ahead run.
- The reason Belt so wanted to push the ball to the left side was that, like Minnesota before them, the Diamondbacks had put on an extreme right-side shift against him. It paid off for them earlier in the game, when Belt grounded out to third baseman Daniel Descalso, positioned to the right side of second base, in the third inning. Descalso was positioned similarly in the eighth. It didn’t work out so well the second time around.
Unlike Minnesota, nobody on Arizona’s side of the field seemed to take umbrage with Belt’s tactics following the D’Backs’ 1-0 victory. “Unfortunately we play a shift, we play an aggressive overshift and you saw what happened,” said Lovullo after the game, blaming himself, not Belt, in an MLB.com report.
This year we’ve already seen Cleveland bunt against the shift during a one-hitter and the Angels bunt against Cleveland during a no-hitter, which follow last year’s incidents involving Justin Verlander and Gio Gonzalez.
The good news is that, save for a few profoundly sensitive players in Minnesota, nobody really thought twice about any of these situations.
As for Belt, he continued to be a thorn in Arizona’s side on Wednesday night.