Management Miscues Will Cost the Detroit Tigers the AL Central
By Matt St Jean
Hernan Perez found himself in an all too unfamiliar situation Sunday Night/Monday Morning, as the Detroit Tigers lost the home series finale to the Kansas City Royals 2-1, in ten innings.
Perez was again put in a spot, for the second time in the Detroit Tigers previous thirty-three games (his 20th total at bat in that span), where he was called upon to do the exact opposite of why he’s on the team: To use his bat, and not his glove, to help the Tigers tie a desperately needed ballgame.
In case you have forgotten, the last time Hernan found himself in this situation was the final play of the 2014 season against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 3 of the ALDS. The Tigers were down 2-1 after finally scoring a run in the ninth, and of all people Hernan Perez was called upon to pinch hit for shortstop Andrew Romine, even though Perez only had six previous bats the entire season and holds a career .185 batting average.
With men on first and second and one out, Perez promptly grounded in to a double play to end the Tigers 2014 season. On Monday Morning in the tenth inning, Perez grounded out into basesloaded double play. Two batters later, Yoenis Cespedes struck out to end the game. The Royals now have a game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central, where they will remain unless Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus figures out how to properly manage.
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How Ausmus thinks that batting literally his worst hitter in clutch situations is mind boggling. Almost as mind boggling as to how the Tigers even made it to extra innings and why Perez was in the game in the first place. In the ninth inning immediately following a Miguel Cabrera walk, Ausmus decided to pinch run for the best hitter in baseball with Rajai Davis.
“You don’t want to remove your best hitter from the lineup,” Ausmus said. “But it’s the bottom of the ninth. Raj is a significantly faster runner than Miggy, so you hope you can win it right there with Raj.”
Anyone with eyes can see this is true. Miguel runs like Tom Sizemore in Saving Private Ryan after he got shot in the chest while Rajai is one the quickest and best base stealers in all of baseball. So if you’re going to replace your best hitter in a tie game in the final inning, you should probably use that speed and steal a base. But no. Davis just stood there, like Cabrera could of done. He advanced to second after a Victor Martinez single, which would have been third had Ausmus done what he was supposed to and had Davis steal second base to begin with. The Martinez single would of landed Rajai on third base with zero outs and any ball hit in the outfield would end the game.
Instead it was another disastrous Cespedes at bat, a JD Martinez fly out and a Brian McCann line out, to sent it to extras.
Now the Tigers are in extra innings without their best hitter and no first basemen.
This is how Hernan Perez was in the game.
He was called on to play first base because manager Brad Ausmus had no other option, due to he pinch ran for Cabrera two hours and one inning earlier.
But that wasnt a problem, as Angel Nesbitt gave up the Royals second run of the game anyways.
The problem is the double play Perez grounded in to. Had Brad Ausmus left Miguel Cabrera instead of pinch running, it would have been Cabrera up in the tenth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Game is at least tied if not over considering Royals Closer Greg Holland couldnt hit the broad side of a barn. Ian Kinsler couldnt even bunt because Holland was having so much trouble. Now imagine what Miguel Cabrera would do to a guy in that situation.
I would have no issues with pinch running for Cabrera with Davis, as long as you attempt to steal second base. However not doing so put Ausmus in a situation that actually cost his team a game.
But for the second time this season, the first being the Joba Chamberlain disaster last week, Manager Brad Ausmus actually cost his team a game. Hernan Perez has no business being in these situations at the plate. Even if Rajai is thrown out attempting to steal that base in the games final inning, at least you went for it. Instead, you leave him on first, and hope for a hit to the gap or a bullet down the line, so he can extend it by one extra base with his speed? I’m sorry but I’ve never heard of that strategy. Call me old fashioned, but I dont care how good Salvador Perez is at throwing out base runners, IF you replace Miguel there with a runner you have to go. You have to attempt a steal.
Now the Tigers find themselves a game back with a scorching Twins team coming in to town. Hopefully this team still has some confidence left and the players are keeping the team chemistry together. To me, it seems like this whole thing is one second from exploding. Manager “Brad” has to even have players scratching their heads and wondering what may possibly come next.