Brad Wilkerson: Multifaceted Slugger
Brad Wilkerson: Apollo High School star
As we bloggers sift through the embers of last nights debacle, we try to come up
with reasons why the Nationals five game winning streak came to an abrutpt end.
"Capitol Punishment" lists five "whys," things that Frank Robinson did that, from his perspective, didn't make sense. One that intrigued me:WTF #2 -- Bunting in the first inning? Wilkerson got on with one of the ugliest bunts I've ever seen. But, they don't draw pictures in the boxscores. Guzman followed it up with a sacrifice. Now, let's give the team the benefit ofthe doubt and say they actually knocked in that run, which they didn't'. Woohoo. You're leading 1-0.
Interesting. When Charlie broadcast that on the first pitch of the game that "Wilkerson shows bunt," I was impressed. And when Wilky tried to bunt on the next pitch and, though he didn't get it quite right, still got on, I was downright giddy.
"That's the way Frank!" I thought.
Mr. Punishment [it that's really his name!] saw a 1-0 lead as meaningless. I saw it as imperative. To that point, Willis had pitched 18 innings this year, giving up no runs, and only a few meaningless hits. By getting on base by whatever means, by playing small ball and scoring that one run, it would have broken Willis' consecutive shutout
innings streak, make him mortal, and who knows, might have shaken his
confidence. At the very least, we'd have a 1-0 lead. To win a game, you have to
at least score a run. Would Ohka-san have pitched a shutout? Who knows.
Frank Robinson managed last night the way he needed to. He tried to get
a run early and then hold on to the lead. It didn't work, but it was a good try. And remember, Brad Wilkerson is a leadoff hitter, and leadoff hitters have to bunt from time to time.
The steady beat of the war drums against Christian Guzman continues [mine is more of a small tom tom]. How can Robinson continue to bat him second? Drop his to 8th where he can do no damage. That seems to be the cry. I agree. He's hurting the team at the number 2 spot in the order. However...
When I was playing Babe Ruth League, I was a very good hitter. [this was during the Harding administration :)]I started off the '73 season 0 for April. Serious. NO HITS IN 40 at bats. The previous year, I hit .447 with 51 RBIs in 37 games. I knew, Imean I KNEW I'd start hitting. Coach Jerelewski came to be before a Saturday game and said, "We can't afford to keep you in the 3 slot -- you'll bat 8th until you show me you deserve to hit higher." Now, he had EVERY right to do what he did. His actions,
however, stripped from me what remaining confidence I had left. I ended up
hitting .126 for the season. The season before: 447 -- the season after: .411.
Baseball is all about confidence. Perhaps Guzman is the type of guy who will
never come back from the slow start if Robinson publicly suggests he's lost
confidence in his short stop. I say give him more time. We're 8-5, so it's not
like he's harming the team. Let's see how he's doing in a week.
I didn't mean that Wilkerson bunting is a bad thing. I don't care how a batter gets on base as long as he does.
I DO Care that they sacrificed. There's no place for that until you're closer to the end of the game when you know that ONE run is going to make a difference.
And yes, it's fair to say that Ohka wasn't going to throw a shutout. Ohka's a decent, but typical 4th starter and Florida's a pretty potent offense. One run was going to be meaningless at the end of the game.
Play for one and that's all you'll get.
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