Take off your shoes. Now put yourself in Ned Yost's or Alcides Escobar's shoes. Whichever is closer to your size. The batter two spots before you walked (if you are in Escobar's shoes) and the batter right before you singled. In Yost shoes he saw two players on the bases with no outs.
This is classic Ned Yost bunt situation. The Royals were down 1-0, it was the middle innings (as if what inning it was would change his bunting strategy) and a tough pitcher was on the mound who had cruised really so far. In like every single identical situation Yost calls for a bunt.
It's no secret I hate the bunt in almost any situation. Alcides Escobar isn't a very good hitter but even in light of that I didn't want him to bunt.
In the current run environment of 2015, with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs the batting team is expected to score 1.44 runs for the inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out that run expectancy drops to 1.28 runs. That not a huge drop of course. It's close to the difference between no one on and no outs and no one on and one out. The principle still remains though that it hurts the Royals chances of scoring a run.
The opposing pitcher is doing poorly. He just allowed two base runners without getting an out. The last thing you want to do is just give him an out. That's without taking in to account that a pop up bunt doesn't move the runners at all.
As we expected, Yost called on Escobar to bunt or Escobar decided to bunt on his own. Either way somebody decided to bunt for the wrong reasons.
Escobar tried to bunt the first pitch from Jacob deGrom.
That's not a good pitch to try to bunt. Escobar knows it. The look on his face says it all. Escobar popped the ball in the air but thankfully it was well out of play. Maybe if the bat is just a millimeter or so more under the ball it goes right back to the catcher.
Then came the 0-1 pitch from deGrom.
The opposite of the previous bunt attempt happens. The ball goes right into the ground and into foul play.
Escobar just gave up two strikes for the chance to now try to put the ball in play...something he could have just done from the beginning of the at bat. Escobar's wRC+ through 0-1 count is 52. His wRC+ with an 0-2 count? 9. This was the hole Escobar was now in.
So now there is no question; Escobar isn't bunting now. Escobar is an aggressive hitter. We know this. We've watched him be ultra-aggressive every game this postseason basically by swinging at the very first pitch of the game. If this ball is anywhere near the zone, Escobar is probably swinging at it, trying to put the ball in play.
So what happens?
Of course this is what happens. Escobar goes from seemingly shooting himself in the foot to tying the game.
Escobar hits the ball 228 feet at 78 miles per hour and just like that the game is tied. Batters his .217 this year on balls that were hit at 78 MPH.
Now it wasn't all on Escobar. DeGrom also made a poor pitch.
Here's where Travis D'Arnaud set up
Here's where it ended up
It was supposed to be a slider down and away. Instead it ended up being a slider up that didn't break.
With Escobar standing on first and Alex Rios 2nd, what happens next?
Ben Zobrist grounds out
Lorenzo Cain flies out to center.
That's two straight outs. There's no guarantee that a run doesn't score on the Zobrist ground out but there's no guarantee that it does score either. However if Escobar successfully sacrifice bunts then Cain's fly out ends the inning with at most one run scored.
Instead the Royals do this
The Royals were up 4-1 and in solid shape to take game two of the World Series. Not solely because Escobar couldn't lay down a bunt, but it wasn't not because of it.
Maybe in another universe or simulation Escobar lays down the sac bunt successfully and the Mets get out of the inning allowing only one run. Maybe Carlos Correa turns the double play in game four of the ALDS. Maybe Max tells me to stop writing articles for Royals Review. Maybe...maybe.