Tagged: tigers

Wilson Valdez Walk Off Safety Squeeze

Game: Detroit at Cincinnati, June 8 (box, 6-5 Reds win)
Situation: Bottom 10, one out, 0-0 count, runner at 3rd, 5-5 tie
Pitcher: Phil Coke
Batter: Wilson Valdez
Runner on 3rd: Miguel Cairo

Leverage index: 4.7
Win probability added: +17.0%

The Tigers are playing with fire this year. Their defense is by far the worst in the AL. Of course this is partly by design: they have Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, two great hitters but awful defenders, and they want them both in the lineup every day. (For the moment, we’ll ignore the fact that one of them could DH; this interleague game at Cincinnati was DH-less.)

So when the Miguel Cairo led off the bottom of the tenth with a triple for the Reds, it probably took manager Dusty Baker only a minute to figure out how to manage this inning. He’d give Ryan Hanigan, a pretty good hitter, a shot to win it. The pitcher’s spot followed Hanigan, and with a pretty meager selection of bats on his bench, I bet Baker looked at those slow, stone-handed corner infielders of the Tigers and knew exactly what he’d call for.

Sure enough, Hanigan grounded out weakly, and Baker sent up the less than intimidating Wilson Valdez. With the winning run on third base, the Tigers were forced to play their infield in. No matter. Valdez dropped it down, and Cairo dove in under the tag safely, securing the victory for the Redlegs. I have to think that just about any other first baseman would have made this play, with the advantage of playing in. Prince himself almost caught Cairo. Detroit made a decision to sacrifice of defense for offense, and in this game it cost them.

As far as the Reds go, they chalk up another win on top of the NL Central and the second most important squeeze of the season so far.

Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +5 (+1, success; +1, seventh inning or later; +1, ninth inning or later; +1, tie game; +1, walk off)