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Jim Leyland is no stranger to overmanaging.
I thought he’d set the gold standard last year when he intentionally walked A.J. Pierzynski twice…
…and the second one came in the eighth inning, two outs and the Tigers trailing by seven.
The Sox rubbed Leyland’s face in it. Carlos Quentin cleared the bases with a triple, Joe Crede singled and Juan Uribe doubled before Yorman Bazardo (anagram: “Boozy Radar Man”) finally got the third out.
Nope, he topped it on Saturday night, and possibly the worst. He called for the intentional walk four times (the 41st time it’s happened in an AL game since 1954; basically one a year), and Alfredo Figaro basically issued a non-intentional IBB to Brent Lillibridge to load the bases in the second.
Unfortunately, the Sox never really made it hurt. At least they scored a run when Leyland called for a LOOGY in the second inning.
I can’t tell you off-hand how rare that move is, but I did go through Play Index and find that no American League manager called for a LOOGY to face one batter in the first half of the game. It happened twice in the NL, and both came in the fourth inning.
Leyland’s Game 161 strategy might rival Bob Brenly’s World Series Game 5 as the worst big-game managerial performance in recent memory. That LOOGY call seemed to fill Comerica Park with dread before Placido Polanco failed to handle Scott Podsednik’s hot shot cleanly. He got one out instead of two, a run crossed the plate, and the White Sox had their insurmountable 2-0 lead with 22 outs left to go.
Ozzie Guillen hasn’t had the best of seasons, but he’s never turned coal into diamonds over the course of two innings the way Leyland did tonight. Hopefully he stored that away for the next time he has a big game. Hopefully, that’ll be as soon as next season.
And hopefully the Sox learned something from Saturday night, because they were basically playing themselves. We watched such familiar elements as:
*Tiger hitters watching hittable pitches and swinging at junk thrown by a pitcher who, by most accounts, shouldn’t experience big-league success on a routine basis.
*Tiger hitters having runners on the corners, nobody out, and coming away with nothing.
*Tiger outfielders giving away outs with terrible judgment.
Meanwhile, the Sox stole six bases in six attempts, played first-to-third ball and dropped in a number of big bloop hits.
Maybe it was the full moon, or maybe this is what happens when a manager prepares for the worst with his decision-making.
A couple other thoughts:
*Alex Rios had the softest three hits in one game since Pablo Ozuna in 2006, but they all count. And honestly, with the amount of medium-range flyouts the Sox hit, a guy who can hit bloop singles is welcome.
On the other hand, he let another ball drop right in front of him in right field — Curtis Granderson’s single that led to the Tigers’ first — and as we’d come to find out, only — run. Throw that in with the back-breaking Nick Punto single on Sept. 23, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve ever actually seen him leave his feet.
*Carlos Quentin, on the other hand, stung the ball three times, and was stung by the ball twice. A 428-foot homer, a flyout to center that would’ve been a homer at the Cell, a roped double, a pitch off the triceps and one off the bill of the helmet is just about the ultimate CQ game.
And it’s games like an ultimate CQ game that lead me to believe that Quentin’s health will be the single biggest variable for the 2010 White Sox. Outside of Barry Bonds, one player isn’t responsible for turning a 79-win team into one that wins 90-plus games, but at the same time, if Quentin could be counted upon, Kenny Williams’ job would be so much easier over the coming months.