Chicago — Fans chalked it up as another instance when Tigers manager Brad Ausmus didn’t appear to be on the same page as his players.
But two days after the debacle in Houston, Ausmus and reliever Alex Wilson insisted there was no miscommunication.
Instead, it was just an ill-timed, misplaced pitch by Wilson that Astros slugger Jose Altuve rapped for the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“I think we were on the same page,” Wilson said before Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series in Chicago against the Cubs. “I just didn’t execute my pitch.
“Starting a guy off with a cutter, trying to run it off the plate. I tried to get on it too hard, and it just spun right in the middle.”
During a mound conference before Altuve’s at-bat, Ausmus told Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to tread lightly with Altuve.
But the intentional walk wasn’t ordered because Preston Tucker, who’s hit some clutch homers against Detroit this season, loomed as a potential pinch-hitter.
Yet Wilson still was in attack mode, leading to the “miscommunication” whispers.
Ausmus said there was no chat after the game or during Monday’s off day with Wilson about what happened.
“He was trying to throw a slider down and didn’t get it where he wanted it,” Ausmus said. “That’s part of the game.”
Part of the game, too, is ordering a walk for a player of Altuve’s credentials, especially with two outs in the bottom of the ninth — even if the potential pinch-hitter on deck has owned your team.
But one pitch to Altuve, and the game was over.
“You want the right-on-right matchup there with two outs,” said Wilson, the Texas native who had family and friends in attendance. “He is their best hitter.
“You want to attack, but do it smart. I just made a poor pitch.”