It got lost in the shuffle a bit last night because of how the game ended (and because of several other more costly managerial decisions), but watching Mike Scioscia intentionally walk Alex Rodriguez with two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning was remarkable for two reasons:
1. It’s almost unheard of for a manager to willingly put the go-ahead run on base.
2. Despite that, it absolutely seemed like the correct decision.
Can you imagine other closers doing that? Could imagine Mariano being asked to do it? But Scioscia saw that the Yankees had a weak hitter behind Rodriguez (it ended up being Jerry Hairston as a pinch-hitter) and knew just how much damage A-Rod had done, so he had Brian Fuentes put him on. Fuentes then struck out Hairston to end the inning.
“I can just think of Barry Bonds,” Scioscia said when asked for any precedent on making such a decision. “That’s the only time I think I can remember doing anything like that, or we can remember doing anything like that. … The ball was carrying pretty well, and Alex can backspin some pitches like nobody’s business, and we just wanted to take our chances.”
Obviously it worked out. Near the end of his interview, Rodriguez was asked if he’d often been walked with two out and nobody on. “Often?” he said. “Never.”