Francona and playing for the big inning
June 27th, 2007 by czar

I am absolutely baffled that Francona let Cora swing away in the fourth with no outs and guys on 1st or 2nd last night, down 4-2.

You’re facing Felix Hernandez. Cora is not gonna hit a 3-run shot and go for the jugular. You might not get another baserunner the rest of the game– and you let your #9 hitter swing away and promptly ground into a DP as opposed to bunting your two runners over with a white-hot Crisp and a steady hitting Pedroia to follow.

I mean Julio Lugo might suck at getting bunts down, but isn’t Cora the smartest player in baseball? I thought smart players could handle bunting.

For the record, I’m not a huge Francona detractor– I try not to nitpick, since many decisions can go either way so easily– I just thought it was pretty cut and dry with your #9 hitter coming up against one of the best starters in the AL. Guess I was wrong. 

Well, he wasn’t technically pitching like an ace last night and every Red Sox starter had a hit off him—they were teeing off Fernandez.  Better to play for the big inning in a high scoring game than to play for a single run with a bunt.  It ended poorly, but Francona had the right idea. 

You technically aren’t playing for a single run– you are putting the tying run in scoring position with 1 out, so a single could easily score two.

Also, Alex Cora is hitting .207/.273/.310/.583 in June, and this poor stretch goes back to the last couple weeks of May. He has been a poor hitter (dare I say– Julio Lugo levels!) for over a month now. Personally, against the Felix Hernandez’s of the world, you can’t really expect a .207 hitter to help you play for a big inning.

It’s also tough to retrospectively say “Felix Hernandez had a bad night last night” because we are talking about the 4th inning, not the 9th. We can’t consider his whole game in context at this point– it’s akin to saying, “well Santana shut us out for 6 innings, but we got to him for 3 in the seventh, justifies not playing small-ball the previous 6.”

Like I said, I’m not a Tito basher, but I think at that point, with the Sox somehow still in the game even though Gabbard looked like garbage, you have to play to get even against a good pitcher; to reset the game 0-0. You can’t let a guy who hasn’t hit for a month swing away and make terribly unproductive outs that kill baserunners against a good pitcher when you already know you have to try to piece together 5-6 innings from your bullpen.

Posted in Message Board Ramblings

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  • Traversing the land that is known as Red Sox Nation, The Czar Who Wears Red Sox is an attempt at compiling a repertoire of my ever-so-sexy forum posts (when I'm too lazy to write my own damn entry) and other random baseball thoughts that strike. For those whose posts serve as the inspiration of my epiphanies and rants, do not be angry, but merely, be honored that you have achieved such status. Names will never be revealed. Feedback appreciated, as this is a work in progress.

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