Tigers pay for pitching to Altuve as Tucker looms on bench

Brad Ausmus saw Preston Tucker hit his third game-tying homer of the season off Tigers pitching Saturday night. He did not want to give Tucker a chance at a go-ahead shot Sunday afternoon, and he was willing to pitch to reigning AL batting champion Jose Altuve with the winning run on third to do it.

“You have to pick your poison there,” Ausmus said.

Agree or disagree, the strategy seemed to be clear. The execution between Ausmus, catcher Alex Avila and pitcher Alex Wilson on how to execute it seemed to vary.

“We were trying to pitch him carefully,” Ausmus said after Altuve hit Wilson’s first-pitch cutter up the middle for a walkoff single. “We weren’t trying to give him anything to hit, but sometimes the location is missed, so a guy gets a hit.”

Avila saw it the same.

“We were trying to get him to chase something,” Avila said. “Probably in that situation, if we fell behind, we’d probably just walk him.”

In other words, Altuve would’ve gotten the unintentional-intentional walk, something Ausmus confirmed would’ve been the option if he got to a two-ball count.

Wilson, who had held Altuve 0-for-6 dating back to 2013, was focused on getting him out.

“Pitching carefully, you’ve still got to attack,” Wilson said. “You want to get people out. You don’t want to get behind. The goal is to get him out, because the next guy on deck is a left-hander.”

Switch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez — 2-for-7 off Wilson — was waiting. After Gonzalez was Carlos Correa, whom the Tigers retired just three times this series.

“The matchup right there is for me versus Altuve,” Wilson said. “You can be careful, but at the same time you still have to work within the zone.”

Avila lined up off the plate for Wilson’s first-pitch cutter, which floated over the middle of the plate. Though Altuve entered Sunday batting .274 with a .674 OPS against right-handers this season, he had little trouble centering the pitch with authority.

“I wanted to get ahead,” Wilson said, “and unfortunately I hit the top of the zone rather than the bottom of the zone.”

Said Avila: “Just a cutter that kind of came out sideways.”

Ausmus’ wariness of the left-handed hitting Tucker impacted his pitching to start the ninth. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny entered with two out in the eighth to face Colby Rusmus, who popped out on a 3-0 pitch. With the bottom third of the Astros order due up, Ausmus stuck with Gorzelanny to face right-handed slugger Chris Carter, switch-hitting catcher Hank Conger, and right-handed hitter Jake Marisnick.

“You can bring a righty in and know they’re going to pinch-hit Tucker at some point,” Ausmus said, “or you can leave a lefty in there against guys that you think a lefty has a chance to get out and leave [Tucker] in the dugout.”

That strategy very nearly worked.  Gorzelanny, whose new sidearming style yielded similar numbers against lefties and righties at Triple-A Toledo before his return, got a fly ball from Carter to deep center field on a full count, and a groundout from Conger into an infield shift.

Gorzelanny didn’t get the call on a 1-1 pitch that he felt hit the outer edge on Marisnick, but recovered to get the count full when Marisnick fouled off a 3-1 fastball.

“We had him diving out to the outside part of the plate,” Avila said, “and wanted to go with a good fastball inside, try to get him tied up.”

Marisnick got a fastball over the plate and sent it to the fence in right-center, earning him a two-out triple and forcing Ausmus to make a decision.

Tucker is 2-for-5 as a pinch-hitter, both hits being home runs against the Tigers. All 12 of his home runs this season are off right-handed pitching, which he hits for a .272 (52-for-191) average.

In the end, he haunted the Tigers again without stepping to the plate.

“I go back to the playoffs here when Albert Pujols hit that home run,” Ausmus said, recalling Pujols’ ninth-inning go-ahead homer off Astros closer Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS. “We were trying to be careful with him. Sometimes you miss your spot and it ends up costing you.”

40 Comments

Is there any point to comment on a brad Ausmus decision?

We did not want to give him nothing to hit? we call that, to pitcth hard.As real managers know, that never works. You dont wait until 2-0. Give him the IBB

That was the obvious strategy. Get rid of Jose and set up a force at the least.
Jose has been killing the Tigers.
Duh!!!

Got rid of the failed experiment poster boy. He has been so clearly a failure.
Can’t seem to do anything much right

He’s so scared of this rookie Tucker and paranoid about L-R matchups that he pitched to their best hitter with firstbase open. Homers don’t matter at that point, a single wins it. Guess what? Pitchers do miss on their location.
I defended this guy for a year and a half. I’ve seen enough.

True, pitchers miss, but when you read the quotes, it doesn’t sound like they had the same strategy.

I tried to yell STOP. But Wilson let go before I could even get the word out. Looks like everyone here knew what the right thing to do was. I could not believe he was going to try and get their best hitter out with 2 bases open. How do you defend that? If you insist on doing it, then the first pitch has to be well out of the strike zone. That should not have been hard for a professional to do. If walked Altuve probably would have taken 2nd but so what? Why are we even having to discuss this? Therapy.

Sorry. Pitch to Altuve, a contact hitter who will swing at a bad pitch, or someone cold off the bench? It is an obvious answer. When Detroit’s announcers second guess, you know it is a bad decision.

Let’s be frank here. Jones, the pitching coach cannot teach these yoyo’s how to pitch. The team ERA has INCREASED each year that Jones has been the pitching coach. At WHAT POINT do you FIRE the pitching coach? Now.!

Brad sucks.

Didn’t realize that about the team ERA. Makes sense though.

If they are going to seriously consider Lamont as the next manager they should let him audition the rest of the season. Frankly, I think there are better candidates and would prefer to see him go too. Based on that, I’d keep Brad till the end of the season.

Lamont was fairly successful with the Chicago White Sox in his 4 years as a manager there. He won 2 dvision titles (one during the Strike Season) and a Manager of the Year award. As a player, Lamont was originally drafted in the first round by the Tigers and spent his entire MLB career with them.

Of course we are still only 4.5 games out of the WC. We could get hot and make that up over 2-3 weeks. I guess that is another reason to stick with Brad.

Lots of back tracking disagreement. ..not on the same page going on there. Okay Brad that’s on you.

As Jason pointed out, they were not in the same page. That begs the question, a rookie pitcher call his own game without even the catcher knowing?

There was obvious miscommunication; so obvious I didn’t bother to mention it. Lack of communication is a management failing, and not just in baseball. There shouldn’t be confusion over whether they’re pitching to a guy or not.
Re letting Brad go now, I’m looking at Thursday night in Detroit. What’s going to happen the first time he appears on the field? This could get ugly. It’s a very bad situation when even the non-“fire the manager” types are calling for his dismissal. Lamont doesn’t have to be the fall back manager. Heck, Trammell could suit up. All that said, I certainly don’t realistically expect Ausmus to be fired before season’s end.
Big league pitching coaches don’t teach pitchers to pitch. The team ERA has gone up because the talent level of the pitchers has gone down.

Besides Lamont and Tram, Clark also has MLB experience a a manager.

All this BS about Tucker “looming” on the bench and being a Tiger “killer”.
He was 1 for 9 in the series (in addition to being cold off the bench) Brad.
Get real.

Love the “looming” part. I also like Mario’s “he’s lurking in the on deck circle.” No man, he’s standing right there in plain view.

Lamont is too old school. Trammel may not get another chance (though I think he should) and Clarke does not have enough (Tiger) stripes.
One thing for sure, Ausmus is already a lame duck manager. You can take or leave the “duck” out or in.

Weird eh Rich? I like that too. Mario should use (“I see you”) Rod to help him out with that!!

Can’t manage a game afraid. Maximize your infield’s chances of getting a force out by having Gorzo intentionally walking the bases loaded, bring in Wilson to face Correa and get that third out. Better than facing 2014 hits leader Altuve with the winning run on 3rd.

Yeah. It can’t be qualified or quantified, but I get the sense Brad manages against the worst possible thing that could happen, rather than what’s likely to happen.

I vote for Ron Washington. And I am only half-kidding.

A team that’s underachieving to near impossible levels, chosen to win the WS this year, a manager now on the hot seat. Tigers? Nope. Nationals. There’s an amazing saga taking place over there.

AUSMUS GO HOME PLEASE

I was curious and further reviewed Lamont’s credentials after commenting about his MOY award during his 4 year tenure and 2 first place finishes with the ChiSox. He later ended up with a miserable Pirates organization, but was able to pull off a second place MOY finish there. In all, Lamont has close to a .500 record as an MLB manager. Surprisingly good given how lousy the Pirates had been for years.

That was all a long time ago but Gino has a lot of baseball cred. He was a front runner for the Boston job, I think it was. I thought he was going to get it.

Yeah. It came down to Lamont and Valentine.

Drew Hutchison , probably, will be called up to face the Tigers.5.06 ERA but 12-2. He was optioned today to AAA

Optioned so that the Jays will go with 4 man rotation for the next 2 weeks with the off days they have coming up. Also, the Jays are starting a road trip and Hutchison is a disaster on the road. He is 10-1 with a sub 2.00 ERA at home. One of those really weird splits. He will be back for the Tigers series I am sure of which I am going to Friday and Sunday’s games.
.
— Bob

Hopefully, it wont go 19 innings again !!!!! 🙂
.
— Bob

“10-1 with a sub 2.00 ERA at home ” , a hitters friendly park ,weird indeed…Cy Hutchinson comments coming

AUSBOT 3000 MAJOR MALFUNCTION AGAIN. SYNTAX ERROR. BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. SHUT DOWN, RE-START.

Gotta give some kudos to Castellano. His dWar may be unimpressive but he actually is among the top third basemen in fldg. pct.
He has made 6 errors this year. That is a big improvement over last year.
He has been noticeably more solid lately.
Now if he would just stop swinging at worm-killing breaking balls!

6 plus about 16 more they didn’t count.

Holaday off for the season. Thumb injury

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He did it again. Ausmus didn’t learn anything from 2015 by pitching to Altuve with first base open. Altuve’s 2 RBI hit beat us again tonight.

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