Francona Costs Tribe The Comeback

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In front of a sellout crowd at Progressive Field on Saturday night, the Cleveland Indians took a 4-2 deficit into the bottom of the ninth inning. For the second night in a row, the tribe rallied late with a flurry of offense. This time the Indians hitters were able to reel off three consecutive hits with two outs in the ninth and tie the game at 4. Tigers’ Closer Joe Nathan suffered a blown save when Michael Bourn slapped a single through the hole between short and third to push Murphy across and tie the game. The Indians appeared to be on the brink of another walk-off win with all the momentum of another late game rally. Asdrubal Cabrera was coming to the plate with two hits already in the game and the winning run at second. However, Cabrera quickly bailed Nathan out, swinging at the first pitch he saw and softly bouncing out to first.

Tribe Manager Terry Francona called on Cody Allen in the top of the tenth. Ian Kinsler singled off of Allen and moved to second on an Austin Jackson sacrifice bunt. Tribe pitching coach Mickey Callaway brought the infield in to talk things over with Miguel Cabrera coming to the plate. Common sense was screaming “Walk Him!” as Allen surprisingly went back work against the best hitter in the game and first base open. Cabrera laced an Allen fast ball off of the wall in deep center driving home what would be the winning run.

Many will make the point that Victor Martinez was on deck and had already homered twice in the series. However, the fact is that Cabrera is the Triple Crown winner and two time MVP. When Francona walked into the yard today he should have been met with a giant banner reading “Don’t let Miggy beat you, anybody but him!” Hind sight is 20-20 but this was a no-brainer. You cannot allow the best hitter in your opponent’s line up to beat you in extra innings with first base open, let alone the best hitter in baseball. After the game Francona said “If there’s one guy where you’re going to take a shot it’s with Cody, with his stuff. He just misfired.” The truth is that Francona’s post-game comments should have sounded like this instead, “If there is one guy you don’t ever let beat you in that situation it is Miguel Cabrera, with his Bat. I just made a mistake.” At least then we would know that he learned his lesson. Justifying the choice to not walk Cabrera with a statement that sounds like “I thought Cody was good enough but he messed up” is passing the buck and very unlike Francona,

By: Brad Ward

Follow @CST_BradWard on Twitter

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