Don't Bunt to Break Up a No-Hitter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Perfecto Broken Up by Bunt … and for Once That’s Okay

Boston, a day after getting gut-punched 20-2 by the Oakland A’s, had mustered not so much as a baserunner with two outs in the fifth inning Saturday against right-hander A.J. Griffin.

Frustration was inevitable, but was it sufficient to explain why Jarrod Saltalamacchia would bunt in the middle of a perfect game? The Red Sox catcher did, and reached base safely, which seems like a no-brainer: The guy was in clear violation of the Code. Heck, he even had a parallel with the most famous perfect game breaker-upper in history, Ben Davis—another catcher, who pulled the trick against Curt Schilling in 2001.

There was, however, a notable difference: For some unexplainable reason, A’s manager Bob Melvin had put on a defensive shift. With third baseman Adam Rosales positioned where the shortstop usually stands, Saltalamacchia was given the same kind of wide-open invitation all left-handed batters receive in that situation: an easy base hit with a well-placed bunt. Saltalamacchia, who has all of three sacrifice bunts in his career—all in 2007—took him up on the offer. (Watch it here, starting at the 1:03 mark.)

If the theory behind the governing rule is that a team’s first hit should be above board, with no gimmickry involved, then it should only follow that the defensive positioning of the pitcher’s team should follow suit. When Melvin opted not to play things straight up—despite holding a 5-0 lead—his opposition can hardly be faulted for acting similarly.

Melvin acknowledged as much after the game. “I probably should have had the third baseman in,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

To Griffin’s credit, the pitcher appeared to not hold any grudges. “It’s a good way to try to get momentum for your team,” he said. “There’s not anything I can do about it except try to get the next guy. Whatever.” (Bobby Valentine, who has far bigger controversies to consider than this one, added the sentiment, “Who cares?”)

There’s lots of blame to go around for Boston’s misery this season, but not on this play. If Griffin has a beef with anybody, it should be Bob Melvin.

Jarrod Parker, No-Hitter Etiquette

On the Dreaded Power of the No-Hitter Jinx

When A’s starter Jarrod Parker gave up an eighth-inning single to Michael Young Monday, it saved his manager some headaches. Parker is a rookie, had already exceeded his closely monitored pitch count, and, until Young reached safely, had not yet given up a hit to the Rangers.

Bob Melvin had already told himself that the eighth would be Parker’s final frame, regardless of the outcome. He was prepared to do what Terry Collins wouldn’t, just days earlier: capsize a no-hitter in progress.

Because it never came to pass, however, and because intentions are far less fun to criticize or defend than actions, we’ll turn our attention to Ray Ratto of CSNBay Area. Never one to subscribe to superstition (or even buy it off the newsstand), Ratto set about needling those on the collective edge of their seat during Parker’s gem.

In the seventh inning, he took some notice of folks on Twitter trying to draw attention to Parker’s feat without actually coming out and saying it, for fear of the dreaded jinx. From Ratto’s ensuing column:

Superstition lives in baseball, at least among the devout and experienced. Well, I am a man of science, in that I believe in evolution for some people. So I blurted out in response to one such devotee of tradition, “You mean JARROD PARKER’S NO-HITTER THROUGH SEVEN INNINGS? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING NOT TO REFER TO?”

Did he jinx anything? Parker gave up his first hit two pitches later.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ratto’s style from his years at the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, his response to the ensuing fallout paints a fairly accurate picture:

So it was my fault, except for the following things. Jinxes don’t exist, and superstitions are idiotic. There are no baseball gods minding the store for etiquette violations, and if there were baseball gods, they still haven’t fully explained the color line to my satisfaction, so to hell with them anyway. Plus, Parker wasn’t reading my Twitter feed at the time, plus nobody else in the dugout was, plus, they already knew very well he had a no-hitter, plus shut up.

Other than that, yes, it was my fault.

In Ratto’s mind, even if there was a jinx, he should be doubly thanked for sparing Melvin the fallout from having to remove a pitcher from his own no-hitter.

Seems like perfect logic from here.