David Peralta scores the Diamondbacks' winning run on Tuesday night. (Associated Press)
Phoenix – Rather than resign himself to a lineup that in recent days hasn’t been much better than his bullpen, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus changed his batting order ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
He loaded Rajai Davis into the No. 2 spot, batted Ian Kinsler third, and moved Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to the fourth and fifth slots in the Tigers batting order.
The move came about 12 hours after the Tigers endured one of their more anguished defeats of 2014, a 5-4 cave-in to the Diamondbacks that saw the Tigers blow scoring opportunities, as well as a one-run lead.
“Just gives Rajai a little more freedom to run if he’s not in front of the pitcher,” Ausmus said of Davis, who was starting in left field Wednesday. “It extends the lineup a little.”
Ausmus said Tuesday night’s game was history (“It’s over, you can’t do anything about it, move on.”) and he had no lingering thoughts about what might have been handled differently.
But for those inclined to do postmortems, there was much to consider following a night of torture for Ausmus and the Tigers.
The manager was convinced he made the right move in pulling starting pitcher Rick Porcello for a pinch-hitter following seven innings and 77 pitches. Ausmus was betting that allowing Davis, who hit for Porcello with the bases loaded and two out, a shot at delivering a game-busting hit trumped any risks he might be taking in excusing Porcello and handing the game to his bullpen with a 4-3 lead.
But the plans blew apart. Phil Coke allowed a pair of one-out walks and both runners scored following another walk from Al Alburquerque, capped by Miguel Montero’s two-run single against Ian Krol.
Also of importance to Tigers fans, who have had their issues this year with catcher Alex Avila, was why Ausmus, in the eighth, did not pinch-hit for Avila with runners at first and third, one out, and a left-handed reliever on the mound for Arizona.
Avila batted and struck out for the third time in four empty at-bats Tuesday.
“The truth is,” Ausmus said, “if we hadn’t had the lead, there’s a good chance I would have pinch-hit. But there’s something to having your starting catcher out there when he’s been there through the first seven innings, knowing what hitters have done.”
Avila, who is batting .225, acknowledged after Tuesday’s game that he had been of zero help during his four at-bats and three whiffs.
“Oh-for-four, with three strikeouts, is not very good,” he said, with a sigh. “I had opportunities to drive in runs, and didn’t.”
The Tigers were praying Wednesday that they would take the second of three games against Arizona ahead of a dangerous four-game series at Anaheim against the Angels. Anibal Sanchez was set to start for the Tigers against right-hander Trevor Cahill, who is 1-6, with a 5.63 ERA.