April 11th, 2010

Why Santiago hit with game on the line

I talked about this in my game story on the Tigers site, but I figured the question’s going to come up: If Johnny Damon was going to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, why not have him hit for Ramon Santiago rather than Gerald Laird?

I asked Jim Leyland about it after the game. If Damon bats in Santiago’s place and draws a walk, it loads the bases for Gerald Laird with Alex Avila and Adam Everett as the remaining two hitters on the bench. And there was a good reason to lean against sending up Avila in that situation.

“I wanted a veteran guy up there,” Leyland said. “That’s why I hit Damon
[for Laird] instead of Avila. I just thought the veteran guy would take
closer pitches for balls. I felt comfortable with Santi. If I hit
Damon [for him], they might walk him, and then I hit Avila for Laird.”

I think it says a lot of what Leyland thinks of Santiago as a hitter, and with good reason. He’s 30 years old now with more than 1,400 Major League plate appearances under his belt.

Sunday: Tigers vs. Indians

A couple days off for some regular Tigers today: Don Kelly starts in place of Johnny Damon in left field, while Ramon Santiago (8-for-15 career off Jake Westbrook) is at short.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Kelly, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Santiago, SS
  8. Laird, C
  9. Sizemore, 2B

P: Justin Verlander

INDIANS

  1. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  2. Grady Sizemore, CF
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  4. Travis Hafner, DH
  5. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
  6. Matt LaPorta, 1B
  7. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  8. Lou Marson, C
  9. Michael Brantley, LF

P: Jake Westbrook

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