Johnny Cueto Safety Squeeze

Game: Minnesota at Cincinnati, June 23 (box, 6-0 Reds win)
Situation: Bottom 4, one out, 3-2 count, runners at 1st/3rd, Cincinnati up 3-0
Pitcher: Anthony Swarzak
Batter: Johnny Cueto
Runner on 3rd: Scott Rolen

Leverage index: 0.9
Win probability added: +1.5%

The video doesn’t begin to do justice to this circus. Here’s the whole plate appearance:

  • Pitch 1 (0-0): Bunted foul up first base line.
  • Pitch 2 (0-1): The suicide squeeze is on, but Cueto takes the pitch for a ball. Twins’ catcher Ryan Doumit makes a poor throw to third, and Rolen dives back in safely. Rolen’s lack of speed probably helps him here. If he was any further down the line, he would have been hung out to dry.
  • Pitch 3 (1-1): The pitch is in the dirt. Cueto pulls the bat back at the last second. It should have been ruled a strike.
  • Pitch 4 (2-1): Bunted off the plate foul.
  • Pitch 5 (2-2): The Reds keep the bunt on with two strikes. Swarzak finally catches on that he’s trying to bunt and throws a high fastball. Cueto shows bunt, but takes the pitch for a ball.
  • Pitch 6 (3-2): As you see in the video, the bunt is pretty good, into the triangle between the pitcher, first baseman, and second baseman. For some reason, Rolen stops halfway down the line to home. He should have paid for this mistake, but Doumit is already directing the play to first, and Swarzak doesn’t even check the runner, even though he’s got all kinds of time with Cueto trotting toward first. Rolen scores without a throw.

A very similar play happened earlier this year in a game between the Blue Jays and Yankees.

Let me add that Jeff Brantley is a horrendous broadcaster. He mispronounces Trevor Plouffe’s name and doesn’t even know Doumit’s name, despite the fact that the latter used to play in the NL Central for the Pirates.

Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +0 (+1, success; +1, two strikes; -1, missed sign)

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