Why Ruffin entered in tie game with traffic
Jim Leyland admittedly didn’t know much about Chance Ruffin when the Tigers made the decision Sunday to give him a shot at the big leagues. He knew enough to have a chance.
“I think this boils down to one simple thing: It appears to me that our people in the organization felt that he was better for us at this point than [Lester] Oliveros was. Period,” Leyland said Monday afternoon. “That’s what it sounds like to me.”
He knew enough to give him a shot in the tightest of situations Monday night once left-handed starter Duane Below lost left-handed slugger Adam Dunn to a two-out walk. Carlos Quentin stepped to the plate. Ruffin was already warming up, preparing for a right-handed hitter.
It wasn’t the situation Leyland would’ve liked to use to debut Ruffin, but it was where he needed a right-handed reliever. And the way Al Alburquerque has been used for the past several weeks, it was too early to use him.
Yes, Leyland didn’t know much about Ruffin. But he also knew the White Sox didn’t know much about Ruffin.
“That’s an awfully tough spot for him,” Leyland said. “They hadn’t seen him. I was just hoping they could get that guy out, maybe get him out and then we’ll go from there.”
Welcome to the big leagues, Chance Ruffin.
“Major League debut in middle of a pennant race, bases loaded and [Carlos] Quentin’s up,” Alex Avila said with a smile. “Good luck.”
It was a rare, for sure. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no Major League pitcher had debuted with the bases loaded in a tie game since Brian Lawrence did it in the sixth inning against the Dodgers on April 15, 2001.
Lawrence allowed one run to score on a sacrifice fly, but that was it. Ruffin started off Quentin with back-to-back 94 mph fastballs before putting a slider where he probably didn’t want it. Quentin pulled it into the left-field corner for two runs.
“It’s a high-pressure situation,” Ruffin said. “It’s fun to be in. You just want to be that guy to come up with the big out. Just didn’t happen for me on that one.”