Detroit — It was a second-guesser’s paradise at Comerica Park Tuesday night.
After the Tigers’ 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, manager Brad Ausmus offered his reasoning for several decisions that sparked plenty of fan debate across the Twittersphere.
The first was his decision to leave starter Anibal Sanchez in to pitch the seventh inning. Sanchez was at 92 pitches and he was cruising. He had struck out the side in order in the fifth and struck out the side again in the sixth after a leadoff single.
“He was really strong in the sixth,” Ausmus said. “He looked really good and I stuck with him.”
Plus, Ausmus said later, the Twins were at the bottom of their order.
But Sanchez walked Kennys Vargas after he had him in an 0-2 hole. Then, on his 100th pitch of the game, he allowed a single to Kurt Suzuki.
The next opportunity for second-guessing came with Ausmus’ decision to bring in Bruce Rondon instead of one of the usual set-up options – Justin Wilson or Shane Greene.
Of course, the fact that Rondon wound up getting torched — two-run single by Eduardo Nunez, RBI single by Joe Mauer and two-run homer by Brian Dozier — made the second-guessing easier.
But the decision was based on logic and necessity.
“I was trying to stay away from Wilson,” Ausmus said. “He had gotten up in the bullpen twice two days ago, pitched the day before and pitched again Monday. I was trying to avoid him.”
So why not Greene?
“Greene could have pitched,” Ausmus said. “But if I pitched Greene in the seventh and we got a lead, Rondon would have had to pitch the eighth inning anyway. I felt like Rondon was the guy there. They had runners on first and second, probably bunt, and he’s got the ability to get the strikeout to get us out of the inning.
“It just didn’t work.”
Finally, right-handed hitting James McCann and then Jose Iglesias came to bat in the ninth inning with the bases loaded. The Tigers had scored twice and each represented the tying run. On the mound was right-hander Brandon Kintzler.
Why not pinch-hit a left-handed batter there — Tyler Collins or Jarrod Saltalamacchia?
“I thought about it, but if you look at Kintzler’s numbers, right-handers hit him better, they hit him significantly better, than lefties,” Ausmus said.
His logic was unassailable. Righties are hitting .254 against him; lefties .158. But both McCann and Iglesias struck out.
Logical and data-driven decisions don’t always lead to positive results.