When Luis Guillorme stepped to the plate for the first and only time Sunday, with the game on the line and the Mets’ ability to salvage anything from this important series right there with it, he had one job: bunt.
When he tried and failed twice, though, he had to take a different approach: swing.
That one yielded success. He sneaked a walk-off double down the first-base line to give the Mets a 2-1 win over the Dodgers in 10 innings.
“That’s why Buck [Showalter] is our manager,” said a smiling David Robertson, who tossed two scoreless innings. “Perfect call. Worked out just like he wanted it.”
The Mets (43-50) snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided a sweep in a series in which their offense was extremely ineffective. They totaled three runs in three games, and Guillorme’s RBI was the first by anybody other than Brandon Nimmo. “Winning a major-league baseball game is hard,” Showalter said. “It’s been a little harder for us lately.”
Guillorme’s game-winner, the first walk-off RBI of his career, was the product of a plan gone awry.
Brett Baty began the inning as the automatic runner on second, and all the Mets needed was one run to beat Los Angeles (53-39). Showalter figured their best chance included using Guillorme in place of Mark Canha because Guillorme “is probably our best bunter.” A successful bunt in this scenario would get Baty to third with Francisco Alvarez and Nimmo looming.
But the Dodgers’ Nick Robertson, a rookie righthanded reliever who marked his 25th birthday by getting into his eighth major-league game, did well to prevent that.
The first pitch, a 96-mph fastball, went way inside on Guillorme, who got off a defensive bunt, fouled on the third-base side. Strike one.
The second pitch, another 96-mph fastball, went away inside again on Guillorme, who sort of jumped out of the way as the pitch caught a piece of the bat. Strike two.
Both times, Guillorme stared back at Robertson. Showalter said he couldn’t tell if Robertson did it on purpose, as some pitchers are taught, or if he was wild after not pitching in 10 days.
“More mad at myself, because I know I can get bunts down,” Guillorme said. “I think everybody knows I can bunt.”
So sure of his ability was Guillorme that he considered trying to bunt again on the next pitch, even though a foul ball would have meant strike three. But he decided against it, trying instead to hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield.
The mere possibility of Guillorme continuing his bunt attempt, though, made a difference, according to Showalter.
“I’m sure he was contemplating bunting with two strikes, which they had to honor, which brought the first baseman in, which allowed the ball to get down the line,” Showalter said.
Guillorme hooked the next and last pitch down the line — not hard, but hard enough. Baty scored easily. The ball came to rest in the rightfield corner and the Mets mobbed Guillorme near second base.
“I said to the guys, I’m surprised Freddie [Freeman] didn’t get to it, because he doesn’t miss many balls over there,” Guillorme said. “All I was trying to do, really, is hit a ground ball to the right side . . . It was great, especially after I haven’t had the best year like I wanted to have, especially at the plate. So it was great. A great feeling.”
That rendered less relevant Showalter’s decision to go with reliever Trevor Gott, who allowed the tying run, in the eighth inning of a 1-0 game. And it made sure that Max Scherzer (one hit in seven scoreless innings) outpitching Bobby Miller (one run in 4 2⁄3 innings) mattered.
They can thank Luis Guillorme, bunter extraordinaire.
He said, “It worked out.”