Bo Porter explains suicide squeeze bunt
The way Brett Oberholtzer of the Astros and Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma were pitching on Sunday, it looked like the team that scored first would win. Especially when the game remained scoreless through seven innings at Minute Maid Park.
“I told (Jose) Altuve in the eighth, just give me one (run),” said Oberholtzer.
Altuve delivered. The Astros second baseman opened the Houston eighth with a double off Charlie Furbush, who was facing his first batter after relieving Iwakuma, who allowed only six hits and no runs in seven innings.
What Altuve started, Jason Castro continued, and pinch hitter Brandon Barnes completed in Houston’s two-run eighth inning, that included a successful suicide squeeze bunt, in a 2-0 win over the Mariners.
Oberholtzer(4-1) finished with a four-hit shutout, all singles. But if the Astros hadn’t scored in the eighth inning, the rookie left-hander may not have earned the win if the game prolonged.
Altuve’s double was his third hit of the game. Castro followed with his 35th double of the season, scoring Altuve for the game’s first run. Castro advanced to third by tagging up on Matt Dominguez’s fly out to right field.
That’s when things got interesting. The right-handed hitting Barnes pinch hit for left-handed hitting Brett Wallace against the left-handed Furbush. On Furbush’s second pitch of the count, Barnes fouled off the pitch on a suicide squeeze attempt.
Astros manager Bo Porter called for the suicide squeeze again on the next pitch and this time Barnes placed down the bunt, scoring Castro for the second run and reaching first base safely as no one covered the bag.
“In that situation you look at the matchup, you have (right-handed hitting) Brandon Barnes there,” said Porter. “You have a guy that can handle the bat and hit lefties pretty good. It gave him more options.
“Once it got to a favorable count, I felt like he threw ball one, I go OK this is going to be a strike and this is a good time to do it. He fouled it off and my gut tells me to do it back-to-back. And Brandon did a great job getting it down and getting us that second run.”
On the first bunt attempt, Furbush’s pitch was a little outside and Barnes was just trying to make contact. The next pitch Barnes got it down.
“I gave it my best effort,” said Barnes. “Tried to put it where no one could really get the play at home.”
On both bunt attempts Castro was breaking and running hard to home plate.
“He (Barnes) got the job done, laid down a good bunt and actually got a base hit out of it,” said Castro. “He did a great job executing. That’s a tough spot, trying to get that bunt down off of a lefty with pretty good stuff.”
Oberholtzer was out of view and not quite in the Astros dugout when Barnes was putting down the bunts. Oberholtzer didn’t actually see the second run score.
“The second attempt I heard the crowd and seeing the guys jumping around a little bit and looked at the scoreboard and it was 2-0,” said Oberholtzer. “Much appreciated.”