CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta was hardly surprised to see the Pirates using a defensive shift against a handful of Cleveland's hitters during Friday's 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh. Acta has been known to do the same against opposing teams.
"That's done through the defensive charts," Acta said on Saturday. "They must have our guys hitting the ball on the ground that way, and probably hitting it in the air to the opposite field. It's something that some teams do to distract the hitter a little bit, too, and try to make them change their swings and all that.
"That's why I do it a lot of times. Mostly, it's because they must have enough data to tell them that those guys have been pulling the ball on the ground."
In a couple cases, the Pirates began in a normal shift before altering their defensive alignment in the middle of at-bats. Pittsburgh used this approach specifically against Cleveland outfielders, and left-handed hitters Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo on Friday night.
In both situations, the Pirates switched the defense in one-strike counts.
"It's done because with one strike the guy is less likely to try to bunt," Acta said. "They make sure they take away the bunt on the first pitch, because you can always try a bunt if they do it with no strikes. If it's a foul ball, so what? I've got two more strikes left."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle echoed that explanation.
"We'll wait just to honor the fact that they might try to put a ball down early," Hurdle said. "They've shown that they have in the past. We get video like everybody else. There's guys that have taken the early shot at the bunt.
"Not many of them do it with one strike, and obviously none of them are going to do it with two strikes. We stay there for one strike and then we move on out."