With two runners in scoring position and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Avila had a chance to be the hero tonight. Three pitches into his at-bat, Avila had worked a 3-0 count. We all know what happened next: Avila swung at a belt-high fastball and lined out to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.
Should he have swung?
Avila hit the ball hard. If Abreu isn't standing right there, it's a double into the right field corner that ties the game.
Avila has been hitting well lately. Going into tonight's game, Avila was a robust 7-for-21 with four doubles on the current homestand. Even after tonight's 0-for-3 showing, his OPS has nearly doubled since the Tigers' west coast trip.
Avila got his pitch. PitchFX shows that the ball was almost right down the middle, a perfect spot to pull the ball as Avila did.
Matt Lindstrom was not pitching well. Aside from the 3-0 count, he had already walked a batter in the inning and given up four well-hit balls. Extending the at-bat may have given the Tigers a chance to win the game, because...
Torii Hunter was on deck. Brad Ausmus made his decision early, deciding to put Hunter in the on-deck circle before Avila even walked to the plate. If the game got past Avila, the Tigers were going to live or die with Hunter.
Personally, I liked the decision to give Avila the green light. With first base open, a walk neither brings in a run nor does it advance a runner in that situation. Meanwhile, a base hit ties the game. In this particular case, Avila's hit likely puts him into scoring position, with the possibility of Rajai Davis coming off the bench to pinch run. Avila got his pitch and hit it hard. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for the Tigers.