It’s sort of like reminding a kid how to spell “horse” before sending him on stage at a spelling bee. Sometimes you have to tell Major League Baseball pitchers that David Ortiz is good, and that he can crush changeups — especially with the bases loaded.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was saying something of that sort when he tried to defend Detroit’s Joaquin Benoit on Monday, the day after Benoit flopped a first-pitch changeup in the bottom of the eighth that Ortiz mashed into the Red Sox’ bullpen to tie Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox won the game on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single in the next frame.
“I made a mistake that I take full responsibility for,” Leyland told reporters Monday. “I should’ve reminded him that we didn’t want Ortiz to beat us. He tried to make a great pitch. He tried to get it low and away and out of the strike zone, but he didn’t get it there. We were going to try to get him to swing at a ball if we could. I should have reminded him about that, and I did not.”
Ortiz is a pretty feared hitter around the American League, especially in the postseason. There were even some folks Sunday night who thought an intentional walk may have been better than pitching to him. That’s probably what Leyland was going for — that giving up anything less than four bases to Ortiz and letting another member of the Sox come up would have been preferable.
Leyland was pushing the positives heading into Game 3, though, and he said he didn’t think the gut punch would linger too long.
“I don’t look for any carryover [from Game 2],” he said. “I didn’t see any carryover with the Boston Red Sox.”
That may be something he also needs to make clear to his team.