Squeeze play (baseball)

From Academic Kids

In baseball, a squeeze play is a sacrifice bunt with a runner on third and fewer than two outs. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out at first base, but hoping that the runner from third will be able to score.

In a safety squeeze, the runner at third takes off when the batter makes contact, and hopes that the ball will go to a location from which it will be difficult for the fielding team to make a play at the plate. In a suicide squeeze, the runner takes off during the pitch, even before the pitcher has released the ball. This will likely make a play at the plate impossible if the batter makes any kind of contact at all, but it means that the runner will almost certainly be out if the batter fails to make contact. Hence the batter must try to hit the ball, even if the pitch is wildly out of the strike zone, so this play requires a more skilled bunter.

These plays may be used in the late innings of a close game in order to score a winning or tying run.

A good example of the suicide squeeze occurred in Game 7 of the 2004 National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros, played Thursday, October 21, 2004. In the bottom of the third inning, Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack doubled to start off the inning and then advanced to third base when catcher Mike Matheny grounded out to the Astros' first baseman, Jeff Bagwell.

The next batter for the Cardinals was pitcher Jeff Suppan. The first pitch to Suppan from the Astros' Roger Clemens was hardly even in the air when Womack sprinted towards home plate. Suppan "laid down" a perfect sacrifice bunt that took a slow roll along the first base line. Bagwell came in to field the ball, but the time he reached it, it was too late for him to stop Womack. His only play was to throw out Suppan at first base (which was being covered by the second baseman, Jeff Kent). Womack scored the Cardinals' first run in a game that they would eventually win, earning a berth the 2004 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

If Womack had not taken off right at the pitch, but waited for Suppan to make contact with the ball, he likely would have been tagged out near home plate for the second out of the inning, and Suppan thrown out at first base for the third out to end the inning on a double play, with no run scoring.

Another alternative for the difference between a suicide squeeze and a safety squeeze is that the suicide is a bunt down the third base line, subjecting the runner to being tagged out, while the safety has the bunt going down the first base line with less risk to the runner.ja:スクイズ


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