Anibal Sanchez was brilliant last night, tossing eight shutout innings before allowing a one-out double to Coco Crisp in the bottom of the ninth inning. Following the double, Brad Ausmus visited the mound and made the decision to pull Sanchez in lieu of closer Joe Nathan. We all know how that turned out. Nathan blew the save, allowing a walk-off home run to early AL MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.
Did Brad Ausmus make the correct decision?
On one hand, Sanchez was nearly untouchable last night. He struck out nine hitters and had only allowed three hits (including Crisp's double). Of his season-high 111 pitches, Sanchez generated 11 whiffs, a healthy 10% swing-and-miss rate. He had already struck out each of the next three hitters earlier in the game, and generally made the A's lineup look foolish all night.
On the other hand, there are several reasons why pulling Sanchez may have been the better option. Getting through any major league lineup -- let alone the top offense in the American League -- four times is a challenge. Both John Jaso and Donaldson already had hits against Sanchez earlier in the game. Sanchez's pitch count was his highest total of the season, and he hasn't exactly been a beacon of health in 2014. Plus, it's not like the Tigers were bringing in Phil Coke to face the heart of Oakland's lineup. The team is paying Joe Nathan a lot of money to thrive in situations just like this.
So, what do you think? Did Ausmus make the right decision?