Francona explains the eighth
|09.03.09 at 12:54 am ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona was forced to make some interesting decisions in the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 8-5 loss to the Rays, Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
The first came after David Ortiz led off the inning with a walk. With the Red Sox’ trailing by a run, Francona chose to send in Joey Gathright to pinch-run for his designated hitter, a move he typically stays away from for fear of losing Ortiz’ bat later in the game.
Gathright would steal second and ultimately score from third on a J.P. Howell wild pitch for the game-tying run.
“With a little bit more of a deeper bench, with Mike Lowell sitting there and we have the DH, Joey’s able to steal. Although we’re not playing for a tie game, but with a deeper bench like that we can do some things we might not be able to do earlier in the season with four guys on the bench. We got a tie.”
Just prior to the equalizing run scoring, Francona pinch-hit for Jason Varitek for the first time this season, sending up Casey Kotchman, who drew a walk to load the bases. The manager pointed to the match-up as a primary reason, with Varitek carrying an 0-for-11 mark against the Tampa Bay pitcher at the time, reliever Grant Balfour.
Francona then chose not to pinch-hit Lowell or Rocco Baldelli against Howell, a left-hander. While the run did score via the wild pitch, Gonzalez would make the inning’s second out via a strikeout.
“Gonzy had been on everything,” said Francona regarding his shortstop, who had ripped a leadoff double in his previous at-bat. “If I said I didn’t think about it I would be lying, but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do. We had bases loaded and he throws a wild pitch… Gonzy’s been on everything, and with David out, Mikey would hit in that spot… it gives us a little bit better chance to stay out out of the double play.”
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