Tigers' Brad Ausmus knows: You're only right if you win

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – Brad Ausmus knew he was in a no-win situation in the ninth inning Tuesday night – a no-win situation with the fans and critics, that is.

He made the decision that starter David Price, who had pitched a brilliant and efficient eight innings of three-hit ball, was going to start the ninth with a 3-0 lead. But he was put in a tight spot when the White Sox scratched out two runs and still had a runner on first with one out.

Ausmus was booed when he came out to talk to Price, though his intention always was to leave him in unless Price told him he was wearing down. Ausmus was cheered when he left Price in.

But baseball pundits debated whether Ausmus went against baseball convention by not bringing in closer Joe Nathan at that point.

"My convention was defined by whether I felt David was still throwing well, which I did," Ausmus said Wednesday morning. "There is so much second-guessing in baseball because there is no convention. It's whatever works. If I had taken David out and brought Joe in and the same thing happened, then I shouldn't have brought Joe in.

"Come on, there's no winning that."

His decision to stay with Price, Ausmus said, wasn't a reflection of any lack of confidence to use Nathan.

"It really boiled down to I thought David was pitching well and he said he was feeling well," Ausmus said. "It just didn't pan out."

Singles by Paul Konerko and Marcus Semien, both on two-strike change-ups, tied the game. Price afterward defended his use of the change-up, his third or fourth best pitch, because he felt he needed to change his approach to hitters who were facing him for the fourth time in the game.

Ausmus agreed.

"There is some truth to that – you see guys for the fourth time and having a little bit different approach," he said. "I know it didn't work out be he pitched outstanding."

Former Lions coach Jim Schwartz used to say, "It's only right if you win." If that's the case, then Ausmus was right Tuesday.

Nathan came on to get the final out and the Tigers wound up winning in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off single by Miguel Cabrera.