Chess Match: Tigers keep roaring
Inserting Gomez at DH pays big dividends for Leyland
OAKLAND -- Jim Leyland continued to make the right moves, and the Detroit Tigers -- other than their game plan against Milton Bradley -- did little wrong as they took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series on Wednesday night with an 8-5 victory over the A's at McAfee Coliseum.
Striking gold with Gomez
The situation: With Oakland starting right-hander Esteban Loaiza, Leyland wanted to get more left-handed hitters in the lineup, since lefties hit .319 off Loaiza this year.
The decision: Instead of normal DH Marcus Thames, who hit .256 with 26 homers, Leyland surprisingly went with the 27-year-old Alexis Gomez, who had hit one home run and posted a .259 average in 89 career Major League games.The outcome: Gomez went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs against Loaiza.
The skinny: "I thought that it might be a decent matchup," Leyland said. "He's got big-time power. Unfortunately, he showed most of it in batting practice. But in fact, I guess I can kid about it now. I told him, 'It's a 5 o'clock game, and that's when you hit your most home runs normally, so I'm going to play you tonight.' He came through pretty big."
Drawn and quartered
The situation: Oakland's Mark Kotsay was on third base with one out in the first, and Bradley was at the plate.
The decision: Leyland opted to draw the infield in.
The outcome: Bradley's soft liner was just beyond the reach of Detroit second baseman Placido Polanco for an RBI single. At normal depth, either Polanco would have likely caught the ball on the fly, or it would have been an easy groundout for the second out of the inning. Instead, Kotsay scored and Bradley was on first with still only one out.
Dodging a bullet
The situation: Detroit's Curtis Granderson was on second base and Polanco was at the plate with one out in the seventh with the Tigers leading, 7-4.
The decision: Oakland manager Ken Macha intentionally walked Polanco to set up a double play. At the time, Polanco was 3-for-3 on the night and had reached base in five of his first nine plate appearances in the series.
The outcome: Magglio Ordonez hit a forceout, as Polanco was at second, and A's reliever Joe Kennedy retired Carlos Guillen on a liner to end the threat.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.