Chess Match: Game 58
Breaking down a key moment in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Yankees…
The situation: Jason Frasor is on the mound for the Blue Jays, who are caught in a 2-2 tie with the Yankees with two outs and runners on second and third base. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston heads to the mound and asked Frasor if he wants to intentionally walk Robinson Cano, bringing Jorge Posada to the plate, or if the pitchers wants to face him.
The decision: Frasor indicates that he wants to face Cano.
The outcome: Cano sends a pitch into left field for a single that scores two runs, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead. The second runner to cross the plate is Mark Teixeira, who was intentionally walked earlier in the inning. The Jays escape further harm, and plate one run in the home half of the eighth, but the damage had been done.
The analysis: This situation came down to Frasor vs. Cano or Frasor vs. Posada. Overall, Cano had gone 3-for-11 with a double against the Blue Jays right-hander. Posada was 3-for-11 with two home runs against Frasor. With such a similar sample size, this was more of a comfort call than a numbers call.
Over the past three years, Frasor had held Cano to one hit in five meetings, whereas Posada was 2-for-2 with a home run. After the game, Frasor said he felt like he’d had more success against Cano recently, so that’s why he opted to face the Yankees second baseman. Cano entered the game hitting .356.
Earlier in the inning, it was Gaston’s decision to intentionally walk Teixeira with runners on second and third base and the Jays clinging to a 2-1 lead with one out. The reasoning behind that move was to set up a potentil inning-ending double play. Frasor wound up striking out Alex Rodriguez, but not before a wild pitch allowed the game’s tying run to score.
“He asked me who I wanted to face. Which All-Star do I want to face? I don’t know. I just felt comfortable with Cano right there. I think I’ve had a little more success with Cano, as of late anyways. I guess I chose wrong. It was a heater in. I thought it was going to be caught — I really did. He was supposed to hit it a little further, you know? It was supposed to go right into the glove. I think it was a good pitch, man. It wasn’t one where he could drive it, but he’s a great hitter and the damage was done.” — Frasor
“Most of the time, I give the guys their choice. I think it’s better that way. Sometimes I don’t, but most of the time I do. To me, it’s just like I tell catchers all the time, ‘Don’t make a guy throw a pitch he doesn’t want to throw. Don’t make him do that.’ If I make him pitch to somebody that he’d rather not pitch to, he’d rather pitch to someone else, it’s the same thing to me. As an ex player, I know it’s that way that if you have confidence that you can get this guy out, you go with it. I know the numbers are better, but he felt like he could get him out. Of course, it looked like he hit a pretty good pitch.” — Gaston
My verdict: It was easy during the game to wonder why Cito would call for Frasor to pitch to Cano, especially with an intentional walk used earlier in the inning. It also made some sense in this situation, too. But, after learning that it was Frasor’s decision, it takes on a different light. I might have called for the intentional walk to set up a force out any any base. Then again, I might have had Frasor pitch to Teixeira, who was 0-for-6 against the righty in his career and just 3-for-24 this month, rather than giving A-Rod a chance to blow things open with the bases loaded. In the end, though, Cano’s at-bat proved more critical.
NOTE: I am flying to Colorado on Monday to spend a few days off with family, so I will not be in Florida to cover the Blue Jays’ series against the Rays. I will be covering Day 1 of the Draft on Monday night and then will tweet, blog and write from Colorado and San Diego later on the road trip. Stay tuned…
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