Oct 13, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit (53) pitches during the eighth inning in game two of the American League Championship Series baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The 8th inning bullpen management in Game 2 by Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers was conducted in the correct way. Anyone who blames Jim Leyland for the 4 run 8th inning is wrong. The only thing that can be questioned is pulling Max Scherzer who was at 108 pitches going into the inning. Scherzer had thrown 47 pitches in game 4 of the ALDS so he was fresh, but he had turned in a stellar performance and knew he was going to be done after the 7th inning. The bullpen exists to get outs late in games and to protect leads in that situation. If your bullpen cannot get the final 6 outs of the game with a 4 run lead, you flat out don’t deserve to win the game.
Jim Leyland bringing in Jose Veras to pitch to the 8-9-1 batters is what he was brought here to do from the Houston Astros. Veras did allow the one batter to reach, but the move to bring in Drew Smyly was also the right move. Drew Smyly was brought into the game to get the left handed batter. He did the one thing that is absolutely indefensible. When a LOOGY is brought into a game, he cannot walk him. He literally has one job and he did not do it. Al Albuquerque did the same thing. He got Victorino out throwing all sliders. He cannot locate his fastball and that was the pitch that Pedroia hit to right field for a base hit.
Bringing in Joaquin Benoit was also the correct move. He is the best reliever in the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen. The Tigers needed Benoit to get out David Ortiz and then get three outs in the 9th. That did not happen as Benoit threw Ortiz a first pitch belt high fastball that Ortiz did not miss. Benoit went away from his changeup and had a dead read fastball hitter hit a fastball into the bullpen.
The bullpen management was done the correct way. The pitchers were put in a position to succeed. It is on the pitchers to get the outs that they are on the team to get. Jim Leyland’s bullpen management was correct. The players have to make the plays. They did not and now the series is tied at 1-1 which is what the Tigers needed to have getting out of Boston. This is definitely not the way they wanted to split, but the Tigers now go home. Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher. Justin Verlander is that pitcher.