October 13, 2011
What was Washington thinking?
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
DETROIT - There’s no question that Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington’s failure to manage contributed to the Detroit Tigers and Rangers going back to Texas for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series after the Tigers’ 7-5 win Thursday.
The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
Washington is going to get grilled and rightfully so.
With the scored tied 2-2 in the sixth, the Tigers exploded for four runs. With one on and nobody out for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera came up. Cabrera has given Washington nothing but a headache this series to point where Washington said Wednesday night that he wasn’t going to let Cabrera swing a bat to beat him. Righty Cabrera was facing lefty starter C. J. Wilson. Washington could have gone with a righty reliever or maybe not pitched to Cabrera. He did neither. Cabrera hit a ground ball that went off the third-base bag for a double scoring one. Four more righties came up and Washington did nothing. The Tigers hit for the cycle. Ron, you’ve got some explaining to do. “I never considered taking (Wilson) out,” Washington said. “He threw the ball well and did what he had to do. If the ball doesn’t hit the bag, we have a double play.” Maybe Washington should have reconsidered.
BATTLE FOR JUSTIN
Tigers’ starter Justin Verlander had to battle. He threw 133 pitches over 81/3 innings. His last pitch of the night was a 100-mile-an-hour fastball Nelson Cruz hit for a home run . . . Don’t bother asking, Verlander will not be available for anything should the series go to a seventh game, according to Leyland. As for Verlander, he did say he’d be willing to work out of the bullpen in Game 7 if needed. Let the debate begin
MISSING KEY GUYS
Leyland put a lot of eggs in one basket in Game 4 and it determined how Game 5 went. He used his closer Jose Valverde for more two innings even though Valverde was worn out and he went with Joaquin Benoit for more than two innings in Game 4. It left Verlander trying to win a game on his own. Leyland might have wanted to use his two key bullpen men a little more judiciously especially when he has squat else ... Leyland announced before the game neither reliever would be available. “You just have to be ready for the criticism and the second guessing. I don’t have a problem with that,” Leyland said. “We did exactly what we had to do to give ourselves a chance to win the series.” It worked out for him.
Here’s a list of criticism levelled at Leyland after the key Game 4 loss. With one on and one out, Leyland chose to intentionally walk Adrian Beltre who is battling a sore knee suffered from a foul ball in Game 3 and who was 0-for-4 on the night. Leyland opted to put two runners on base and pitch to Mike Napoli (single) and Nelson Cruz (home run); he sent Cabrera home on the fly ball in the eighth; he played Young when he was hurt: he allowed Jackson to steal in the 10th and he did not pinch-run for Cabrera in that eighth inning. Oh, the benefit of hindsight for second-guessers. As for holding Cabrera so that Alex Avila could hit, before Avila hit a home run in Game 5, he was hitting .061 with one RBI and he’s battling a knee injury. Cabrera had to be sent even if it looked as if he was carrying a refrigerator on his back ... “That’s a good part about baseball,” Leyland said about moves being questioned. “Second guessing is good. Vicious is bad.”
If you love baseball numbers then the Elias Sports Bureau is for you. The play that may have turned this series in the Rangers’ favour in the eighth inning of Game 4 has captured a lot of attention. With the score tied 3-3, Tigers’ Cabrera on third and one out, Delmon Young hit a fly ball to fairly deep right field. Rangers’ Cruz made a great throw to catcher Mike Napoli to get Cabrera and end the inning. Napoli then threw out Tigers’ Austin Jackson attempting to steal in the 10th inning. Napoli then singled in the winning run in the 11th inning. Elias points out that Napoli is the first catcher in post-season history to have a game-winning RBI and an assist on a caught stealing in the extra innings of one game ... If that didn’t impress you in the department of statistics-few-people-really-care-about department, there’s Cruz and his outfield assist. It was the first outfield assist by a Ranger in post-season history and first outfielder-to-catcher double play in a tied post-season game in the eight inning or later since the Reds’ George Foster in the ninth inning of the 1975 World Series Game 6 at Fenway Park. So go out and impress your friends with that tidbit ... Jackson struck out four times Thursday giving him 18 this post-season, a record for a Tiger in post-season play. Tough to set the table as the leadoff guy if you never get in the kitchen.