Over the past few years, it has been common practice to point out Brad Ausmus’ mistakes. There are several examples out there that can be made showing Ausmus’ ineptitude, with the 2014 American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles being a prime example.
However, in a series loaded with playoff implications and the defending World Series champion Royals just barely hanging in the race, Ausmus came out on top. And it was beautiful.
The Tigers won two out of three games from the Royals. Both of the games were won by one run and could have easily been lost. On Friday, the Tigers were down 6-5 going into the ninth inning. Wade Davis, the closer, was just coming off the disabled list and was used. Unfortunately for the Royals, Davis blew the game and the Tigers won 7-6.
Ian Kinsler started the ninth with a hit by pitch and Jose Iglesias doubled. There were men on second and third with nobody out and Miguel Cabrera at the plate. Instead of being intentionally walked, which would have set up the double play, Cabrera was pitched to, and he singled in the winning runs.
Ned Yost refused to stray away from the conventional use of the bullpen and it cost him the game. Kelvin Herrera, who was a perfect 11-for-11 in saves, was never even used in the game. Ausmus’ bullpen was not much better, but he did stray away from conventional use.
Justin Wilson failed to get an out, so Ausmus used Shane Greene for more than an inning of work. He also went to closer Francisco Rodriguez to get a four-out save. While K-Rod did blow the save, it showed that Ausmus was willing to go outside of the one-inning reliever norm. He came out ahead by properly using a worse off bullpen.
On Sunday, Yost made another mistake that has gone unnoticed. In the seventh inning, the Royals loaded the bases, but Yost waited until first base was open before using Alex Gordon off the bench. Ausmus made the right call in intentionally walking him, however, the Royals scored four runs in the inning.
Back on May 9, Ausmus made a similar move in the eighth inning, pinch hitting Victor Martinez with first base open against the Washington Nationals. Just like with Ausmus this time around, Dusty Baker walked him. The Tigers failed to score and lost by one run, 5-4.
Yost should not get a pass here just because his Royals ended up scoring. They also lost by one run and it could have been a bigger inning for them that could have changed the outcome of the game for them if he had deployed Gordon properly.
Ausmus again used the bullpen to near perfection on Sunday, despite Alex Wilson’s off night. Daniel Norris was getting tired and he took him out at the right moment. When it was clear Wilson wasn’t going to get the job done, he again used Shane Greene for more than an inning of work.
Ausmus gets a lot of flak, and rightfully so. However, when it comes to him pushing all the right buttons, hardly a word is said about him. Over this weekend, he pushed more right buttons than a World Series winner did and nothing is being said about it. Well, until now.