Beauty comes in many forms. In this case, it came in the form of a Luis Gonzalez two-out ninth-inning bunt down the third baseline.
It was the top of the ninth and the San Francisco Giants were down 3-1 to their mortal enemy the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sometimes closer and bird impersonator Craig Kimbrel was on the mound for his seventh Dodgers appearance of the young season. He was attempting to lock down his fifth save of 2022. Wilmer Flores, who was playing the role of DH, led off the ninth. He had collected one hit on the day: a weak single to Justin Turner in the seventh.
Flores managed to draw a walk. But the Giants quickly dashed the hopes of the faithful when the next batter, Brandon Crawford, struck out on a foul tip and Thairo Estrada flied out to right fielder Mookie Betts. Betts had been enjoying a day of causing anguish to the orange and black rooters by snagging a line shot in the first off of the anemic bat of Mauricio Dubon and then later setting up the insurance run in the eighth, a nail in the coffin that was unnecessary, but psychologically relevant. Then Luis Gonzalez stepped to the plate.
Who Is Luis Gonzalez
Up until this point, Luis Gonzalez was mainly a minor league ballplayer. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2017 and played for the next three seasons with the Great Falls Voyagers, Kannapolis Intimidators, Winston-Salem Dash, and the Birmingham Barons; a petri dish of the best of minor league baseball team names. Gonzalez is a .267/.346/.416 hitter in the minors and can play all three outfield positions if needed. The Giants brought up Gonzalez to replace center fielder Steven Duggar who was placed on the 60-day IL on April 22.
Gonzalez has played ten games with the Giants this season batting .300/.333/.433 in 36 plate appearances.
The Beauty of Luis Gonzalez
So here we are. Down by two with a runner on first and Gonzalez at the plate. Things aren’t looking great, but they have been worse. So what does Gonzalez do? He reads his options and notices that Dodger third baseman Justin Turner is playing back, giving him the line. And in an act of sheer magnificence comparable to Van Gogh’s The Starry Night he lays down the perfect drag bunt for a base hit. Sure, the next batter, Luke Williams grounded out and the Giants lost, but damn that bunt was a thing of beauty.