Back during the 2011 season, the San Francisco Giants were beating the (then) Florida Marlins 5-2 in the top of the 9th inning. With closer Brian Wilson unavailable, the Giants' Santiago Casilla had come into the game in the 8th inning and was given the chance to close out the game. There was one obstacle, however: Casilla's spot in the order was due to hit third in the 9th.
The Giants did not want to use anyone other than Casilla in the bottom of the inning, so manager Bruce Bochy sent Casilla to the plate with strict instructions to not swing. Casilla carried out those instructions to perfection, and as an added measure to avoid getting hurt, he stood further from the plate than Chris Colabello.
Regardless of his full intentions of watching three strikes and pitching the bottom of the inning, he still needed compliance from Marlins pitcher Jose Ceda. You'd think that throwing three meatballs shouldn't be a problem for a major league pitcher, but perhaps by psyching himself out, Ceda instead walked Casilla on 4 straight balls. As Casilla had no intentions of getting on base and yet still succeeded, it caused Jeff Sullivan to call it "the worst plate appearance in baseball history."
Yesterday, the Twins and Angels had a plate appearance that wasn't quite as awful as the Ceda/Casilla match-up, but it still was pretty bad. Oh, and it's not the Justin Morneau shoulda-been infield fly call.
Instead, it actually involved Doug Bernier, who batted just before Morneau in the 9th inning of Wednesday's game. The Twins were facing Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, who had given up 5 runs in Tuesday's game but was called upon anyway. He continued his shakiness by walking leadoff hitter Clete Thomas, and this brought up Bernier.
Doug Bernier is a 33-year old minor league journeyman that is in the major leagues simply because the Twins wanted to shake up the roster or send a message to the rest of the team or something. Honestly, I'm still surprised that he's in the major leagues and he's been up here for about a week now. He is not the future and probably will be sent back down to the minors at some point this year, so he has to do anything he can to justify his existence on the roster.
In this game, he was batting second and playing shortstop, because Ron Gardenhire believes that your #2 hitter must be a middle infielder that can "handle the bat." Here was a situation in which Bernier could show off his bat-handling-ness by bunting Thomas over to 2nd base.
It's pretty clear that Bernier's going to sacrifice himself in order to move Thomas up a base, so all Ernesto Frieri had to do was throw a hittable - er, buntable pitch. Frieri succeeded, but Bernier failed as he bunted the first pitch into the stands.
Obviously Bernier is giving himself up, so Frieri just needs to throw another pitch down the middle to retire Bernier. Frieri accomplishes that and we see the exact same result as the first pitch.
No, that's not a replay of the first GIF. Bernier got lucky in that his second foul landed just feet away from both first baseman Mark Trumbo and catcher Chris Iannetta, so he's still alive in this at-bat.
Depending on the manager, having the count 0-2 can still be a bunting situation. However, Ron Gardenhire chose to let Bernier swing away in the hopes that something would happen, and something did happen. Namely, Frieri hit Bernier with the 3rd pitch.
I can't tell if that was in English or Spanish, but I'm pretty sure beaning Doug Bernier (Doug Bernier!) was not what Ernesto Frieri wanted to do in this match-up.
The very next hitter was Justin Morneau and he hit a short popup to Frieri on a 1-0 pitch that led to the botched infield fly no-call, and since I'm a believer in the butterfly effect, any change in the Frieri/Bernier battle would have avoided Morneau's 1-3-6-3 double play.
Just to review:
1. Doug Bernier came to the plate looking to sacrifice himself on purpose.
2. Bernier failed in bunting the first two pitches foul.
3. With an 0-2 advantage on Bernier, Ernesto Frieri promptly hits Bernier.
4. The plate appearance, while not actually causing the next play, did in fact create the situation that led to Justin Morneau's double play that really should have been called an infield fly.
This concludes today's episode of "The Worst Plate Appearance Of The Season... Probably."