There are all kinds of ideas that, when looked at up close in objective terms, seem to make a lot of sense. Many of these ideas, however, don’t look so good from 10,000 feet. And certainly don’t look good in hindsight.
And yes, this is hindsight. But there is no escaping the fact that, ultimately, Bruce Bochy decided, with two out in the 10th inning last night, to intentionally walk Adam Jones to get to one of the most fearsome hitters in baseball this season. Chris Davis made him pay for that decision.
Bochy began the 10th with lefty Javier Lopez on the hill. Which made sense because because two of the first three Orioles hitters — Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis — are left-handed. Lopez retired both of them. Manny Machado is not left-handed, however, and he doubled in between those outs. That brought Adam Jones — a righty — to the plate with two outs.
Bochy could have had Lopez try to retire Jones, platoon splits be damned. Or he could ave called in Santiago Casilla or Sergio Romo to face Jones. He chose not to do that. Instead he walked Jones to go lefty-on-lefty, Lopez vs. Davis. All Davis did was double to deep center, scoring both Machado and Jones and putting his Giants in a hole out of which they couldn’t climb. It was essentially the ballgame.
Playing the percentages. Playing the platoon splits. That makes sense. Putting a much worse hitter than Chris Davis on base and giving Davis a chance to bat? That really doesn’t. And Bruce Bochy learned that the hard way last night.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.