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.