While many were sleeping past midnight in many parts of the country, extra innings are usually unforgiven of mistakes and especially in the postseason where one game can turn a series. The Red Sox took the lead in game #3 of the World Series by a score of 2-1 in the 13th inning which a chance to go up 3-games-to-0. On a 3-2 pitch, Max Muncy walked to start the bottom of the 13th inning then he advanced to second base on a bizarre foul-out that carried Eduardo Nunez into the stands. With first base open and two outs, Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was fresh with a pitch count of 35 before Yasiel Puig stepped up to the plate. With first base open, Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided to pitch to Puig, instead of intentionally walking him to face the weak hitting Austin Barnes who is the right-handed back-up catcher for the Dodgers.
No offense to the young Mr. Barnes, but Puig could certainly homer to end the game. Intentionally walking him potentially puts the winning run on first base. While that is a remote consideration, Puig standing in the batter’s box was more likely to drive himself in with a home run than Barnes was to knock in the tying run and the winning run from first base.
Manager Alex Cora might have held some data to say differently as Eovaldi previously faced Puig 4-times and retired him each time (0-4) on balls in play, but the eye test of what you have seen from Puig is he steps up in some of the biggest spots in games. Barnes batted .205 with a weak .290 slugging percentage in 200 at-bats during the season. In the postseason, Barnes was a pathetic 2-for-23 (.087) with no extra base hits before he stepped into the box.
Cora had Eovaldi pitch to Puig. Before the big Cuban stepped into the box, a couple of us questioned why you would pitch to him. Eovaldi went right after Puig. This is the same Puig who cranked 3 doubles and a 3-run home run in the NLCS. Sure enough Puig hit a hard grounder up the middle that looked like a sure hit off the bat except that Ian Kinsler was positioned up the middle and fielded the ball near the 2nd base bag on a backhand but slipped as he made an errant throw to first base allowing the run to score — and tie the game.
Not one media member asked Cora about that decision to pitch to Puig in the 13th inning so we do not know Cora’s thinking on pitching to him By the way, after Puig’s tying single, Barnes hit a lazy flyball to rightfield for an out.