10/25/06 1:02 AM ET
Chess Match: Averting the big inning
A key move helps Tigers avoid more damage in the fourth
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
The situation: The Cardinals draw first blood in the fourth on Jim Edmonds' two-run run double, which still leaves men on second and third with one out and Yadier Molina coming up. The decision: Leyland has lefty Nate Robertson intentionally walk Molina to load the bases with another right-handed batter, No. 8 hitter So Taguchi, due up. Leyland is aware of Taguchi's high rate of grounding into double plays (nine, in 316 at-bats). The outcome: The Tigers don't get the double play. But they do get out of the inning without further damage, as both Taguchi and pitcher Chris Carpenter pop out. The skinny: (grinning) "I don't know if they were scared of me, but I don't think so. With So up, it made sense to walk me and see if he can hit into a double play." -- Molina
The "ZZ" boys are tops
The situation: Robertson pitches well but leaves in favor of a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth. The man who hurt him, Edmonds, is set to lead off the home half for the Cards.
The decision: Leyland calls for Wilfredo Ledezma, another lefty he hopes can put Edmonds back in the funk he endured during the season (.156) against southpaws.The outcome: Ledezma fans Edmonds swinging. When Molina follows with a double into the right-center gap, Leyland switches to Joel Zumaya -- who fans Taguchi and gets Carpenter on a soft fly to right. The skinny: "That's what my role is, to get those guys out. ... I'm a lot better than that." -- Zumaya This calls for patience
The situation: Zumaya starts the seventh by issuing a leadoff walk to David Eckstein to bring up Preston Wilson, who has been having a horrible postseason time against hard-throwing righties, in an obvious bunt situation. The decision: Wilson never indicates any intent to bunt. Neither does he swing at a pitch, as if Tony La Russa, aware that Zumaya has had some wrist soreness and had already walked a guy, has flashed a permanent take sign. The outcome: Wilson walks, too, and the Cardinals go on to double their lead to 4-0 on yet another Zumaya bad pitch -- this one on a throwing error toward third base that chases home two runs.
The skinny: "No way was I in a take mode. He just happened to yank a few balls down in the zone."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.