Offensive substitutions don't pay off vs. Sox
Ausmus replaces V-Mart on basepaths in ninth, loses his bat in extras
DETROIT -- With two runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning in a one-run game, the White Sox intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera.
The batter behind the Tigers' slugger wasn't Victor Martinez, though, because he had been pulled earlier for a pinch-runner. Instead, reliever David Robertson struck out utility infielder Josh Wilson to seal Detroit's 8-7 loss on Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.
The Martinez-Wilson switch was one of a pair of offensive substitutions Detroit manager Brad Ausmus made on Thursday with mixed results, but he defended both following the loss.
In the eighth inning, after a Nick Castellanos leadoff double, Ausmus pinch-hit Anthony Gose for catcher James McCann. The center fielder unsuccessfully attempted to lay down a bunt, then struck out.
"With Gose, his speed puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and you might have a chance at first and third," Ausmus said. "Also, if he gets to two strikes, I'd rather have a left-hander swinging."
And in the ninth inning of what was a 5-5 game, when Martinez reached on a two-out single, he was replaced on the basepaths by Wilson. Ausmus said he reasoned that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes -- who has 22 doubles this year -- might drive the ball into the gap, and the speedy Wilson could then score the winning run.
Instead, Cespedes popped out in foul territory to end the inning.
"I just felt like, having a guy like Cespedes that can hit a double, I'd be upset with myself if he did hit a double and we don't score," Ausmus said. "So I just put Wilson in, thinking he had a better chance of scoring on a double."
Added Martinez: "What would've happened if Cespedes hit a gapper and I would've been held up at third base? ... 'Why didn't they take Victor out?' It's easy to judge from outside, but you know what, we're trying to win ballgames, and I think that was the best option."
In the 10th inning, Gose walked as part of the rally that saw Detroit try to claw its way out of a three-run hole. But the Tigers didn't have their five-time All Star in the lineup to protect Cabrera when he stepped to the plate with two on, two out and the tying run at second base.
The White Sox gave Cabrera the free pass -- a move greeted by a loud chorus of boos from what remained of the 40,335 fans -- setting up the bases-loaded matchup with Wilson.
The infielder struck out on four pitches, and the Tigers' rally fell just short as they dropped to below .500 -- to 18-19 -- at home.
"I wouldn't say [the game] got away from us," Ausmus said. "We actually fought back to get into the game to tie it."