Like many fans watching last night’s game, I imagine, I wondered why the Reds didn’t intentionally walk Mark DeRosa in the bottom of the ninth, thus creating a possible force at home and
avoiding DeRosa, who had nine consecutive hits against the Reds.
Here is Cincinnati manager Pete Mackanin’s answer, as reported by Toni Ginnetti in Tuesday’s Sun-Times
''I don't like to load the bases because it puts pressure on the pitcher to make a perfect pitch all the time,'' (Mackanin) said.
How about the manager's decision to bring Norris Hopper in from center field as a fifth infielder—was that a smart ploy?
Per The Hardball Times
, DeRosa has been fairly groundball-prone this season: more than 42% of his batted balls have been groundballs, third most among Cub regulars.
Reds reliever David Weathers, however, has induced fewer groundballs (34%) than any Cincy pitcher with more than a handful of innings behind him.
In other words, the maneuver, risky in the best of cases, was a solid longshot in this instance, though one the Reds nearly cashed in on.
I actually remember the first time I saw the fifth infielder strategy. It was employed by Gene Mauch, then managing the Expos, against our own Cubs.
(Aside: Pete Mackanin played for Mauch in Montreal. Coincidence?)
I don’t recall whether the extra infielder worked for Mauch. What I do recall is panicking over how to reflect the move in the fielders’ position numbers on my scorecard.
Last night in the bottom of the ninth with sole possession of the NL Central lead at risk, I wasn’t worried about a scorecard.