Game 18: Ausmus aggressive with Krol, Avila
Ian Krol has already stepped up in some big situations out of the Tigers bullpen, notably the 10th inning with a one-run at Dodger Stadium two weeks ago after Joe Nathan’s blown save. He has not had very good splits against right-handed hitters, either this year or in his brief big-league career, but he has shown the stuff to get right-handed hitters out.
With the bases loaded, two outs and a right-handed hitter at the plate, manager Brad Ausmus made the decision to stick with Krol after he retired Jordan Danks. It was as much about the hitter looming on the bench as it was about the pitcher in the game.
“I’ve said it before, Krol’s got the ability to get righties and lefties out,” Ausmus said, “and there was a switch-hitter behind Semien as well. And bringing him in when we brought him in also, I think, gave us the opportunity to keep [Adam] Dunn on the bench. That was part of the thought process.
“There’s only certain spots they’re going to pinch-hit. I thought they might use Dunn in [Tyler] Flowers’ spot [two batters earlier], but they didn’t. … We were trying to keep Dunn on the bench, because we certainly don’t want to see him up in a situation that can change the game.”
It was a decision that backfired once Krol fell behind on a 3-1 count and had no place to put Semien. Much like the decision to stick with Krol, the decision by Krol to go after Semien with a fastball was an aggressive one. It was a pitch Semien could drive out.
“Two-seam fastball,” Krol said before second-guessing himself. “I didn’t want to walk Semien, but now that I think about it, it probably would’ve been a better idea. But yeah, it was a 3-1 fastball, kind of just laid it in there and it was up. What every hitter’s looking for 3-1, to be honest with you. Made a mistake there.”
It was indeed what Semien was looking to hit.
“I was sitting dead red there,” Semien said. “He missed a couple up on me and one of them I check swung but that was lower and I just got extended on it.”
Said Krol: “I was thinking about throwing a changeup there [on] 3-1. Even if it was a ball, the outcome probably would’ve been a little better than what it was. But it is what it is. Short memory. You get back at it tomorrow.”
It was an aggressive decision by Ausmus, who made another once Matt Lindstrom fell behind on a 3-0 count to Alex Avila. That one had some history; Lindstrom was the pitcher whose 2-1 pitch Avila crushed for a ground-rule double to right-center in the ninth inning Monday night.
That was in Ausmus’ mind as he looked at that situation.
“That was my call. He had the green light to swing,” he said. “Alex is swinging the bat well the last few games. He just faced Lindstrom the other night, hit a ball about 400 feet to right-center, and has the ability to hit a ball out. And he took a good swing at it.”
It was a line drive similar to the RBI double he hit the previous night, only a little closer to Jose Abreu at first base. He snared it.
“It was an aggressive swing,” Ausmus said. “He hit a line drive. Sometimes you hit it hard and it gets caught. But I felt the way he’s swinging, he had a chance to win the game right there.”
It was just the fourth 3-0 pitch Avila has put into play in his Major League career, and the first for an out. Two of the previous three went for doubles, the other a sacrifice fly.