Cubs home opener. Dodgers are against the Cubs at Wrigley field after a 2 hour rain delay and 3 hours of baseball. It is 2-2 in the bottom of the 9th and Romo has handed the ball off to the closer Kenley Jansen to finish the inning.
There is a man on second and 2 outs. Anthony Rizzo is at the plate.
“What could go wrong?” A naive Dodger fan would ask, “We will get Rizzo out and go to extra innings with Seager due to lead off. It is a good spot to be in.”
Dave Roberts has managed this game pretty well to most eyes, the only exception being Scott Van Slyke being in the game, or even the roster… However this would be the most important time to control the whole game, right here with 2 outs in the 9th.
Fast forward to today, Angels v Rangers.
Rangers have a 5-2 lead going to the bottom of the 9th.
Espinosa hits a home run. 5-3. Nothing to worry about yet for Texas’ fans.
Ben Revere strikes out and the hearts calm down. But all of a sudden Escobar doubles! Tying run at the plate now with 2 outs and it is Mike Trout, oh boy.
First base is sitting there, the camera zooms in on it and shows the empty, dirty, match used base sitting there with no one attending it.
I am sure the though has gone through the manager’s mind to walk Trout, hold up the 4 fingers and send him on his way with no threat to hitting the tying bomb. The only problem then would be who is up next? Albert Pujols.
Trout hits a double and it is now a one run ballgame with the designated hitter up, a man designated to hit. He is in the team to hit, you get the point?
Sabremetrics and ‘moneyball’ tactics say why give up a base? Pitch to the guy, after all he is only hitting .309 lifetime, a hit 3 out of 10 times. For Texas this should mean, in this position right now, you win the game 70% of the time.
So you keep him in.
Same as what Dave Roberts did against the Cubs yesterday, he left Rizzo to hit, and hit Rizzo did. He beats off a fastball against Kenley Jansen down the left field line and walks off the game 3-2 against the Dodgers.
Should LA have walked the best hitter for the Cubs over the past couple years they would have had to face Ben Zobrist who had gone 0-3 with 4 guys left on base for the game.
Who would the Angels have had up in this spot? A man who has gone 0-3 with 4 guys left on base.
So Zobrist would hit, if he gets a single and wins it then tip your cap to him, and if he doesn’t then the game continues. It baffles me the team didn’t want this game to go on at any costs possible.
So back to the Angels game, Pujols hits a single and ties the game, everyone who stayed back at the “Big A” cheers and Rangers fans are mad, at the closer and at their manager. So why not walk him?
Next up is Andrelton Simmons, he has gone 0-3 tonight with 4 guys left on base, there is seemingly no threat to anything. If I were to ask an Angels fan who they would want in a clutch situation, I would say it would be the guy with a giant board in the stadium with all his massive homeruns, and this figure climbing toward 600.
Not a guy with a 0-3 night and a little guy who plays shortstop. Simmons is hitting .262 lifetime with over 1500 less RBI’s than Pujols, like this is a no brainer.
And guess what? The Angels won in 10 innings.
Barry Bonds once was intentionally walked with the bases loaded to score a run for his team, one of the most bizarre plays in all of baseball, but when math is applied, was surprisingly correct for that situation.
What about this situation though, would it have changed the game if they had both walked their respective hitters?
Would the momentum have changed? No, a man running down to first would not stop anything and would only increase the drama in this game to a whole new level.
What about pressure? There would be way more pressure on a guy who is younger and less experienced, needing to come up with a clutch hit and must do it right now. For the pitchers it would only help them get more confidence against seemingly worse hitters.
Thus begs the question, do the managers now how to utilize the new rule to enhance their team’s chances of winning a game? And with this evidence shown over the past two days the answer would have to be no, they didn’t do what is best for their team, a job they are employed to do.
What about the other managers, well for Joe Maddon he would have loved the guy who carried their World Series trophy out onto the field that day to have a good ending and win it for their team, and Mike Scioscia would put Albert Pujols in at any chance he could get.
It really makes no sense to me and it yes made the game more interesting and fun but would really make no difference and only would help the team to walk the best batters in the game.