The Tigers played a postseason game today. Not an actual playoff game, but a low-scoring game as should be expected in October. Miguel Cabrera was given the day off to rest his possibly still-healing core.
Scoring is down throughout the major leagues. Small ball is making a comeback. In the sixth inning, Ezequiel Carrera had an opportunity to steal second base after a Happy Gilmour single. He would have scored on a subsequent single by Kinsler, but ended the inning stranded on third base.
The ninth inning began optimistically. With Cabrera waiting in the wings, Kinsler singled to drive Shane Greene from the mound. Victor Martinez then walked. With two on and nobody out, J.D. Martinez was due up. The only other bench option was Bryan Holaday, with Eugenio Suarez and Torii Hunter injured. A depleted bench would tend to make a manager more reluctant to make a move, but Brad Ausmus chose to pinch hit Cabrera for Martinez. Miggy grounded into a double play. Don Kelly was up next and softly popped out to end the game.
Ausmus' choices were to have J.D. Martinez bat followed by Miguel Cabrera, or Cabrera bat followed by Don Kelly. The Yankees closer, David Robertson, is right-handed. Martinez is right-handed, and Kelly bats from the left side. But the platoon split does not make up for the difference in ability. Castellanos and Avila followed Don Kelly, and neither would likely be replaced. By the time Andrew Romine, batting ninth, was due up the game would have been decided. Kelly was the obvious spot for the pinch hitter.
On Monday night Ausmus had an opportunity to pinch hit for Avila in the 6th inning. Matt Thornton, a bad match for Avila, was brought in to face him. Ausmus left Avila in, Avila grounded out, and the Tigers lost 2 to 1.
This time Ausmus pulled the trigger too soon, and it may have cost the game.