Padres manager defends 9th-inning bunt in season-ending NLCS loss

San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin stood by the decision for Trent Grisham to bunt in the ninth inning of Sunday’s loss in Game 5 of the NLCS that sent the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series.

Trailing 4-3, San Diego had runners on first and second with one out in the top of the ninth after consecutive walks by reliever David Robertson. With Grisham coming to the plate, the Phillies replaced Robertson with lefty Ranger Suarez.

With the go-ahead run on first, Melvin stuck with Grisham for the lefty-on-lefty matchup, and San Diego’s outfielder dropped down a bunt on the first pitch.

Suarez fielded the bunt and got Grisham at first, while both runners moved into scoring position, forcing the Padres down to their final out. The next batter, Austin Nola, flied out on the first pitch to end the game.

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Viewers were perplexed as the sequence unfolded with Grisham seemingly giving himself up rather than the Padres having two outs to play with and the go-ahead run on base. 

Melvin explained after the game that Grisham was bunting for a hit.

‘Grass is wet. Tough lefty on the mound… I talked to him before it,’ Melvin said. ‘First baseman’s back, drag it over there and we’ve got a chance, with a righty up behind him, to potentially knock in the go-ahead run too. So I think it’s a decent play for sure.’

Grisham, who hit .184 in the regular season, played hero for the Padres in the first two rounds of the postseason, batting .381 with three home runs and five RBI in seven games against the 101-win Mets and 111-win Dodgers. He went 0-for-18 with nine strikeouts in the LCS against the Phillies.

‘Look, this is what we thought was best for it,’ Melvin said. ‘He’s a good bunter, and it got us in a position to potentially, like I said, knock in the winning run.’

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