Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Manager's moment: Intentional walks
By Richard Durrett
DETROIT -- Both managers made interesting decisions in regards to intentional walks. Let's start with Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
With Josh Hamilton at second base and one out, Leyland had closer Jose Valverde intentionally walk Adrian Beltre. The third baseman was 0-for-4 in the game, but has had some success off Valverde.
"I wasn't expecting it," Beltre said.
That brought up Mike Napoli, who hit a blooper to center to score Hamilton for what ended up being the winning run. Nelson Cruz put the game out of reach that same inning by belting a three-run homer into the Tigers bullpen.
Beltre said he figured Napoli would deliver.
"He's been one of our most clutch hitters all year and it turned out to be a really good at-bat," Beltre said.
Hamilton got a nice read on the ball and was able to score from second on what wasn't a hard-hit ball.
Leyland said he wanted to set up the double play and that's why he walked Beltre.
"I didn't want Beltre and Napoli to both hit against him," Leyland said. "As it turned out, he got a base hit. But to get a double play, you're out of the inning. He's not a fast runner, obviously. He's definitely a double-play guy. We just didn't get the ball on the ground. He blooped it into center field for a hit."
A few innings earlier, Rangers manager Ron Washington tried some unconventional strategy and showed the ultimate respect for Miguel Cabrera. With the game tied at 3 in the bottom of the eighth, Washington walked Cabrera with one out and no one on. Cabrera represented the go-ahead run.
Victor Martinez hit a well-placed ground ball through the hole on the right side to put runners at the corners. That's when Delmon Young hit the fly ball to right that Cruz caught and fired home to get Cabrera to end the inning.
"We tried to pitch around Cabrera twice and he got us," Washington said. "So this time, I wasn't taking any chance. And it almost came back and bit me. But he's the best baseball player out there. I mean, this guy can do so much.
"I was not going to let him take a swing of the bat because I took the chance before and he made me pay for it both times. First time shame on you, next time shame on me. I respect Martinez a heck of a lot. Once again, he got that base hit and we almost paid for it, but I certainly wasn't going to let him have a swing of the bat there and beat us."