SEATTLE -- The frustration was still evident in Andrew Romine's voice Sunday morning.
"I have to get that bunt down," Romine said, referring to Saturday night's ninth inning.
He knows a big part of his role involves being able to bunt runners over. He also knows that bunting a runner over against a closer is a different task than bunting in nearly any other inning, but it's his job.
In Saturday's case, he might have fallen victim to the challenge of bunting against former Tiger and current M's closer Fernando Rodney. The key to Rodney's success has always been the deceptiveness of his fastball-changeup combination. In a bunting situation, however, Rodney ditched the offspeed pitch and went all fastballs until Romine had two strikes and risked striking out with one more fouled bunt.
Romine missed a 91-mph fastball on the outside corner for strike one. He let a second-pitch fastball miss low for ball one, but ended up offering at a fastball on the next pitch. That one rose out of the strike zone, a pitch that bunters usually either miss entirely or pop up. In Romine's case, he got it down, but foul.
With two strikes and the bunt sign clearly off, Rodney went back to his changeup, sending Romine swinging and missing for the first out of the inning.
"The hardest pitch to bunt is a four-seam fastball up at 95," manager Brad Ausmus said. "That being said, we have to get the job done. We have to get the bunt down. But I'm not saying it's a given."
Romine was a bunting standout with the Angels last season, going 6-for-16 in sacrifice attempts. He had eight productive outs in 16 situations last season, either laying down a sacrifice bunt with one out, advancing a runner with nobody out, or driving in a run with the second out of an inning. He is 11-for-20 in his career.
He's 1-for-11 in productive out opportunities this season, though he has a bunt single and a sacrifice on the sac bunt attempts he has gotten down.