Don't think, Ozzie, it only hurts the club | Bleader

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Don't think, Ozzie, it only hurts the club

Posted By on 09.01.11 at 01:35 PM

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In case you missed the latest counterintuitive move by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, here are the gory details.

The scene of the crime: yesterday afternoon at the Cell. The Sox are trailing the Twins 7-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Closer Joe Nathan is on the hill for the Twinkies.

The Sox start to rally. Alejandro De Aza doubles and Omar Vizquel walks. They move up a base as Juan Pierre grounds out. Brent Lillibridge is due up, the tying run. He already has a two-run homer in the game, and he's scored another run as well, scooting home from first on a Paul Konerko double.

But take cover. Ozzie's thinking.

And so someone else strides resolutely to the plate. It's not Roy Hobbs.

“I didn’t want the matchup Nathan against Lilli,” Guillen would explain later.

He didn't want the matchup. Because Lilli has hit so poorly against Nathan? He's faced him once—this was in early August, at Target Field, also in the ninth. I was in the stands, down the left-field line. Fortunately, Ozzie had left his thinking helmet at home. Lilli got to bat, and poked a Nathan pitch over the left-field wall.

But Ozzie's instincts say the Sox can do even better with their secret weapon. It's not Mark Buehrle, who might have had a chance.

It's Adam Dunn, the one and only. Who's hitting one and only. I wasn't at the game, so I don't know if the Sox still put his average on the scoreboard or if they're now censoring it to protect the youngsters in the stands.

A swirl of cotton candy would be a better matchup against any pitcher than Dunn has been this season. The cotton candy has a smaller strike zone and doesn't chase the curve.

Maybe Ozzie knew that Nathan was the rare pitcher Dunn can handle? Hm. Two career at bats against Nathan. No hits, but only one K.

Maybe Ozzie figured the long ball was needed, and he wanted to go with a slugger? Hm. Dunn: 11 HRs this season in 368 ABs. Lillibridge: 13 HRs in 177 ABs—fewer than half as many at bats as Dunn.

A few pitches later, the Big Breeze strides a little less resolutely back to the dugout. Konerko singles in De Aza and Vizquel, but then Alex Rios does the Dunn imitation he does so well. Final: Twins 7, Sox 6.

“Obviously he struck out, but that’s the matchup I like the best,“ Ozzie says after the game.

Ozzie is more efficient than his pinch-misser. It takes Dunn three pitches or more to do what Ozzie can accomplish in one stroke of brilliance.

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