Ron Washington is taking a lot of heat this morning.
The oft-doubted yet highly successful manager of your Texas Rangers made what many baseball folks would call, for lack of better words, a dumb move in Monday's 2-0 win over Detroit and Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
After a gem pitched by the newest Rangers starter, Alexi Ogando, reigning AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz was in to close the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Feliz quickly retired the Tigers' first two batters before giving up a double.
That's when Miguel Cabrera stepped up to the plate.
Through 10 games now (including Monday's), Cabrera is tied with a bunch of guys for second in the league with four home runs. He also has nine RBIs, a .784 slugging percentage and is hitting .382.
Behind Cabrera waited Victor Martinez and Austin Jackson. Martinez is hitting .225 with two home runs. Jackson is hitting .205 with one bomb.
Washington chose to intentionally walk Cabrera to put the potential winning run at that plate in Martinez with runners on first and second and two outs. Historically, lefties struggle against Feliz moreso than righties. Martinez is a switch hitter, and of course, batted left-handed, and Feliz induced a soft grounder to Ian Kinsler to end the game and make it 25 straight scoreless innings for the Rangers' pitching staff.
The probability of Martinez or Jackson going yard was not great against a closer that's on his game like Feliz. Even an extra-base hit from Martinez wouldn't have scored the slow-as-a-turtle Cabrera from first base, then Feliz would've faced one of the league's best swing-and-missers in Jackson.
The decision made by Washington wasn't a historically prevalent one, but on Monday, it worked, and more importantly, it made sense.
This, from Rangers czar Jamey Newberg:
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ron Washington’s gut move to walk Miguel Cabrera in the ninth inning, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate, was the first time in more than 37 years that a potential tying run had been intentionally walked in the ninth inning or later in a situation that did not create a left-on-left or right-on-right advantage for the pitcher. The last time: Hall of Famer Walter Alston ordering Hall of Famer Don Sutton to walk Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. The result: Hal King (who, the year before, had been an inaugural Ranger) hit a pinch-hit, three-run, walkoff homer
Disagree, read this take from our Red Fever blogger Josh Alper.