On Sunday, with the Minnesota Twins leading the Orioles 7-0 in the ninth inning on a one-hitter by Jose Berrios, the Twins put the shift on rookie catcher Chance Sisco, who bunted for a single, sparking a failed rally. After the game, the Twins complained that Sisco broke an unwritten rule of baseball.
Sisco said after the game, "Just trying to mess with the timing of the game. He was kind of going through the lineup. Just trying to do what I can to get on base.”
The Twins didn’t see it that way. According to Twins baseball beat writer Rhett Bollinger, Minnesota’s Brian Dozier said, “Obviously, we’re not a fan of it. He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at 2nd base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there."
Here’s what baseball writers had to say about the situation. And we couldn’t find any who agreed with this new “unwritten rule.”
Chris Cwik, Yahoo Sports: “We’re not entirely sure what the Twins are upset about. Berrios wasn’t in the middle of the no-hitter or perfect game. He had already allowed a hit to Sisco. So, the bunting shouldn’t matter.
“There’s a chance the team is angry Sisco decided to bunt with his team down by seven, but even that seems silly. Sisco was doing anything he could to keep his team alive. It was a long shot that the Orioles would come back, but he was trying to give them a chance.
“If you want to argue that the game was out of hand and it was disrespectful, why did the Twins still have a shift on? ...
“The Twins might have been up 7-0, but they were still trying as if they were playing in a one-run game. If the Twins are giving that much effort, shouldn’t Sisco be allowed to do the same? The Twins don’t think so. They would rather he just give up and accept his fate.”
Mike Axisa, CBS Sports: “Translation: ‘We're very upset Sisco and the Orioles didn't just roll over and lose in the ninth inning. How dare they try.’
“That is, of course, completely ridiculous. Surely the Twins would have had no problem with one of their players doing what Sisco did. Dozier would credit him for doing what it takes to win and taking what he's given, blah blah blah. And questioning the O's veteran leadership? What in the world is that? Seems to me a team refusing to go down quietly has pretty good leadership.
“I have no idea if this is a feeling unique to the Twins or one of baseball's many stupid unwritten rules. Whatever it is, it's dumb. Play until there are 27 outs. If you don't like giving up bunt singles against the shift, don't shift. I could understand being upset if it were a no-hitter. But a one-hitter? Come on.
“I looking forward to watching the Twins refuse to put up a fight when they're down big in the ninth.”
Bill Baer, NBC Sports: “In baseball’s rather large book of unwritten rules, there has traditionally been a section that says hitters shouldn’t attempt to bunt for a hit to break up a pitcher’s no-hitter. I’ve never heard an unwritten rule prescribing that same behavior when a pitcher is working on a one-hitter. ...
“The game wasn’t over yet. Sure, overcoming a seven-run deficit with one out in the ninth is a tall order, but players aren’t taught to just roll over once the deficit reaches a certain threshold. They play until the last out is officially recorded. Furthermore, if the Twins expected Sisco to play standard, why weren’t they playing standard defense? If it’s okay to defensively shift up by seven, then it’s okay to bunt down by seven — even if there’s a one-hitter in progress.
“This is just tremendously petty on the Twins’ part. The two clubs don’t meet up again until July 5 in Minnesota, so we’ll see if the Twins carry a grudge for three months.”
Judd Zulgad, 1500 ESPN Twin Cities: “This isn’t just silly, it’s stupid.
“Did anyone bring up the fact that Twins center fielder Byron Buxton stole second base in the top of the fifth inning with his team up by six runs? What on earth was Buxton thinking by running with his team comfortably ahead?
“Oh, that’s right. He was thinking it might be a good idea to add some more runs, even if Berrios was in the process of pitching a complete game, three-hitter.
“But when Sisco decided that maybe he could get his second hit of the game by bunting, well, that was somehow going too far. A line had been crossed! That, of course, is nonsense.
“Maybe it’s the veterans on the Twins, and not Sisco, who need to be pulled aside for a chat.”
Tyler Conway, Bleacher Report: “Baseball has a ton of unwritten rules, but this one appears to be a first. There have been multiple instances of a team being upset with an opposing player for bunting with a no-hitter—a crowning achievement for a pitcher that happens only a few times per season.
“But while one-hitters are impressive, they're a dime a dozen in comparison. There is a reason pitchers are oftentimes removed from games when they give up a hit when they're working on a no-hitter—the two accomplishments are not seen in nearly the same strata.
“Sisco was simply doing what he thought was best to get his team back in the game. If the Twins did not want him to bunt, perhaps shifting was a bad managerial call.
“Plus, Berrios gave up another hit later in the inning, so this is much ado about nothing.”
Greg Papke, Larry Brown Sports: “The Twins were putting their shift in action against Sisco, meaning they clearly still saw merit in going out of their way defensively to prevent the catcher from getting on base. If Minnesota feels justified in doing that, why is Sisco in the wrong for taking advantage of their defensive alignment and getting himself an easy single? You don’t get to employ a certain strategy in a blowout and then get upset when an opponent exploits it instead of rolling over and playing dead. It’s a silly controversy, and the Twins don’t look good for whining about it afterward.”
And The Athletic reporter Ken Rosenthal weighed in on Twitter (he later added the player he is quoting is not on the Orioles):
And some fans had something to say to Dozier on Twitter. Because it was Easter after all.