Questioning the IBB

In my opinion these are the hardest losses to swallow. On a night when the team had to have been tired they really did battle. They fought against a closer with an electric arm and tied up a game in the 9th. But then there was a failure. A failure of execution and of strategy. A game where it seems like the manager let his team down.

I wish that Fox Sports Detroit did a post game with Jim Leyland because I’d love to know the thinking in walking Ryan Garko to get to Nelson Cruz. I don’t always agree with Leyland’s decision making process, but I can usually see his side. In this case I don’t really see another side at all. I’m dumbfounded. Given the effort his team gave him in the top of the 9th, they deserved better.

Perhaps I’m making too much of the IBB. The win expectancy only went down 1% for the Tigers. It was actually the smallest WE event of the inning.

Of course Leyland wasn’t the one who walked Justin Smoak, or Nelson Cruz for that matter. Fu-Te Ni’s control has been poor this season (8 walks and 2 HBP in 6 innings). Ryan Perry has to make a better pitch with 2 strikes to Elvis Andrus. If Perry comes in and doesn’t get Garko out, I don’t have a beef with the manager. In this case though it seems like Leyland walked right into what Ron Washington wanted.

The downside is that I spent 3 paragraphs lamenting negative instead of talking about the top of the 9th inning, which was terrific. The at-bats were all solid. Don Kelly fanned but it took 7 pitches. Ramon Santiago had a 13 pitch at-bat that resulted in an out but had to certainly wear on Neftali Feliz. Austin Jackson was determined to not strike out for a 4th time and put the first pitch in play, and Johnny Damon fought off a couple pitches before getting a bloop hit. And of course Magglio Ordonez with the line drive to right to tie the game. Great stuff that should be remembered.

And we haven’t even mentioned Brennan Boesch’s debut which saw him hit a double and a single (and later make a baserunning mistake). We haven’t mentioned Max Scherzer who went 7 innings and fanned 7 in a quality start. There was quite a bit of good in this game, and the players deserved the same from their manager.

  • It’s a quality start Scherzer because one of the runs was unearned and was the result of a charged error when Alex Avila used his mask to corral a ball.
  • Avila did gun down both attempted base stealers.
  • Scott Sizemore had a rough night at the dish with 3 uncomfortable looking strike outs. A pinch hitting appearance by Don Kelly may have spared him the sombrero.
  • Ordonez looked a little off balance at times on the west coast, but he reached base 4 times.
  • Miguel Cabrera’s 5 game double streak came to an end, but Austin Jackson’s 16 game strikeout streak and Johnny Damon’s 10 game hitting streak are still intact.


  1. Mike Rogers

    April 24, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Basically, the problem is with the process and not the results. If Perry is in against Garko and it all plays out the same way (walk, then walk off hit) so be it. Manager’s job is to put the team in the best position to win; Leyland did not do that.

    • kathy

      April 24, 2010 at 9:02 am

      Pure speculation on my part, but I’ll throw it in anyway. The players wanted to win and I also questioned Leland’s decision. I remember thinking: does he want to get back to the hotel early. Probably not, but it looked like a mental error on his part.

  2. Ryan

    April 24, 2010 at 2:57 am

    None of that would have even mattered if Inge didn’t add to the long list of lineout DPs this year. The bad luck is killing me.

    • Smith

      April 24, 2010 at 4:04 am

      It’ll all even out. And I’m sure we won’t be thinking about these tough losses when we’ve won 6 straight behind some lucky bounces and mistakes by the other teams. It’s a long season, and historically it always evens out.

  3. jud

    April 24, 2010 at 4:26 am

    last year Leyland led the league in IBB, no other manager was close…that’s what he did in the past, does now and will do it again….it is what it is

    • Jeff (the other one)

      April 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      Leyland is Sparky’s heir in that regard. I still remember the game where Sparky issued three intentional walks in one game just to get to Rick Cerone and Cerone got RBI hits each time.

      • Jeff (the other one)

        April 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm

        My memory is pretty good for once. The guy who was walked was Graig Nettles. Cerone had two singles then hit a grand slam the last time around. Memorial Day 1980,4806621

  4. Keith (Mr. X)

    April 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I didn’t watch any of the game, but didn’t the IBB set-up a potential inning ending DP?

  5. Scott

    April 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    yes, the IBB set up a DP. But the real game-losing issue was the leadoff walk. Ni needs to go back to Taiwan….or somewhere. To walk the leadoff man after the way the Tigers battled was criminal. I don’t blame Leyland; I’d have IBB’d to set up a DP too. You had to there; that’s baseball. This was just a total …… by the ‘pen; they lost us the game….. 🙁

    *Note from Billfer – don’t swear.

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      April 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      Why not blame Rick Knapp too? Didn’t we hire that guy for this very reason?

  6. David G

    April 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I confess that I don’t really see the hate for the IBB. Once the bunt was successful then any hit would spell doom, even if Garko strikes out then Cruz would still have a shot to end it. The IBB and the non-IBB just delayed the outcome. Or am I missing something here?

  7. David G

    April 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Agree with Scott, I would rather have seen a walkoff HR than a walk there, batting back and tying the game against Feliz was incredible and for that fool to not come in there and throw strikes was ridiculous.