Little reason to intentionally walk Ichiro

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The A’s and Mariners were tied at 3 in the top of the ninth tonight when Rob Johnson walked with one out and advanced to second on an infield chopper. That brought up Ichiro Suzuki with the go-ahead run at second. Like most managers would have in that situation, Bob Geren opted for the intentional walk and then brought in his closer, Andrew Bailey, to face Chone Figgins.
Again, it’s what most managers would have done. It was undeniably the wrong strategy, though.
Ichiro is, of course, the game’s best singles hitter. If Johnson had been on third, rather than second, than walking Ichiro probably would have been good idea. It also might have been justifiable with one out, as it would have set up a double play. With two outs, it was an awful idea.
Ichiro entered the day with 489 career plate appearances with a runner at second and no one else on. In those, he had been intentionally walked 70 times. In his 384 official at-bats, he had 142 hits, good for an exceptional .370 average.
Yet, those 142 hits had plated all of 73 runs. 124 of them were singles, many of the infield variety. With the catcher running, it’s pretty unlikely that an Ichiro single would have scored a run.
Figgins, on the other hand, had 196 career at-bats with men on first and second and knocked in 46 runs. Not an exceptional rate by any means, but still significantly better than Ichiro’s with merely the man on second. And this wasn’t a situation in which one run would have ended the game. The A’s made it far more likely that the Mariners would score multiple runs with their strategy.
And that’s exactly what happened. Figgins hit what should have been an inning-ending grounder to third, but Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had an absolutely horrible game in his A’s debut, made a wild throw and everyone was safe. Casey Kotchman followed with a two-run single to make it a 5-3 game.
So, yeah, maybe the luck was even worse than the strategy. But Geren made the wrong call and paid dearly.

Clay Buchholz makes first major league start in over a year

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The Diamondbacks selected the contract of pitcher Clay Buchholz from Triple-A Reno ahead of Sunday’s game against the Mets. It marked Buchholz’s first major league start since April 11 last season (also against the Mets) when he was a member of the Phillies. Shortly after that start, he was diagnosed with a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass and he ended up not being able to pitch the rest of the season.

Buchholz signed a minor league deal with the Royals but he opted out of his contract at the beginning of this month. The Diamondbacks signed him to a minor league deal a few days later, needing depth with a depleted starting rotation. Buchholz made two starts for Reno before getting the call Sunday.

Buchholz, 33, pitched well on Sunday against the Mets, lasting five innings and limiting the opposition to a run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts. His only blemish was allowing a solo home run to Amed Rosario leading off the sixth. He was immediately relieved by T.J. McFarland afterwards.

It is not yet clear if Buchholz will get another turn through the D-Backs’ rotation.