So Yuni had 4 grand slams before last night, and frankly, 5 sounds like kind of a lot for a guy who sucks out loud. So let’s take a look at these and see what happened.
August 11th, 2007: Mariners defeat White Sox, 7-6. Victim: Gavin Floyd
The Mariners were already leading 3-1 in the 4th when Yuni sidled up to the plate with the bases loaded. Gavin Floyd managed to retire Adrian Beltre on a lineout, but Richie Sexson (former Brewer!) followed with a single. Kenji Johjima was then plunked and Jose Lopez hit a ground ball single to load the bases. Yuni swung at the first pitch (because of course he did) and took Floyd out to left-center, adding 15% to the Mariners win probability and driving in what would ultimately be the decisive run.
There is an interesting footnote to this game. In the bottom of the ninth trailing 7-2 the White Sox managed to put their first 3 hitters on base (singles for Toby Hall and Andy Gonzalez, a walk for Jerry Owens), at which point JJ Putz came in to “save” the game. Josh Fields swung at the first pitch he saw for the 2nd grand slam of the game, bringing the sox to within 1. Putz retired the next 3 in order and recorded what is one of the worst “saves” I think I’ve ever seen.
Friday, May 28th, 2010: Royals defeat Red Sox, 12-5. Victim: Tim Wakefield
The Red Sox enjoyed a pretty comfortable lead in the 4th when apparently Timmy’s knuckler stopped knuckling. Jason Kendall (former Brewer!) led off with a single and Scotty Pods (former Brewer!) followed with a single of his own sending Kendall to 3rd. Pods obviously stole second. Mike Aviles then hit an RBI single which didn’t scored Pods for some reason, but he would score on David Dejesus’s single, which was followed by a single from Billy Butler. At this point Wakefield got two outs and was on the verge of escaping the inning, but Aviles managed to score on a wild pitch to tie it and Wake walked Mitch Maier to load the bases for our hero, who showed extreme patience in waiting for the second pitch from Wakefield, and took him out to left-center, adding 33% WPA. Yuni was 3/5 in the game and the slam broke a 5-5 tie.
Saturday, July 17th, 2010: Athletics defeat Royals, 6-5. Victim: Trevor Cahill
The A’s jumped on the Royals early, getting 3 runs in the first, but it wouldn’t last long as, in the bottom of the 2nd Alberto Collaspo would hit a 1-out single followed by another from Mitch Maier. Cahill would then walk Mike Aviles to get to our hero, Yuni Betancourt. Yuni actually worked himself into a 2-1 count before taking Cahill out to left field, adding 29% in WPA and putting the Royals ahead 4-3. Jason Kendall (former Brewer!) would add a solo shot later in the inning, but ultimately it would not be enough. Trailing by 1 run, Mike Aviles would lead off the bottom of the 9th with a single, but Ned Yost refused to play the hot hand and instead had Yuni bunt him over to second to set up…Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall (former Brewers!). The Betancourt/Pods/Kendall part of the order failed to produce a run for some reason and the Royals lost the game.
August 21st, 2010: Royals defeat White Sox, 6-5. Victim: Sergio Santos
We’ve come full circle with another one run victory over the White Sox. Yuni had quite the 2010 as he was knocking out grand slams like every month. This was, perhaps, his most important Grand Slam. The Royals trailed 5-1 in the bottom of the 7th inning and White Sox starter Freddy Garcia was rolling. He walked Billy Butler to start the inning but quickly rebounded by striking out Wilson Betemit and Alex Gordon. Garcia was so close to getting out of it but Willie Bloomquist hit the first pitch he saw for a single followed by Mike Aviles hitting the first pitch HE saw for another single. Exit Garcia, enter Santos.
Yuni swung at the second pitch he saw and took Santos out to left-center, tying the game and adding 42% to the old WPA total.
But Yuni’s day was far from over. The score would remain 5-5 well into extras. Chris Sale came on in the 9th for the Sox and worked into the 11th. He walked Wilson Betemit to start the inning and, this being a Ned Yost (former Brewer! Almost forgot.) run team, he had Alex Gordon bunt him over to second. Willie Bloomquist then struck out, but Mike Aviles hit an infield single to put runners at the corners to bring up our hero, Yuni Betancourt. Yuni delivered a walk-off line drive single to center adding 37% WPA and ending the game. Because that, my friends, is what Yuni does.
Grand slams are almost never pointless, but when I decided to look for Yuni grand slams, I half expected to find them at the tail end of 16-0 blow-outs. Not so! Almost all of them were important to winning the game (or keeping it close. Yuni is a treasure-trove of fun facts (like that teams that intentionally walk him have never won a game), and so I leave you with this most fun of all possible fun facts.
Yuni Betancourt has now hit 5 grand slams in his career. Yuni Betancourt has also hit 5 3-run home runs in his career. He has the same number of grand slams as he has 3-run bombs. Such a weird player.