ARLINGTON, Texas – Rangers manager Ron Washington left himself wide open to second-guessing with his questionable strategy in the seventh inning.
Washington opted to take the ball from ace Yu Darvish with two outs and a man on second base in a one-run game and hand it to Derek Holland, who threw a wild pitch and allowed the runner to score on a single by Nate McLouth.
Darvish dealt with some discomfort in his right trapezius muscle in the sixth inning, which he attributed to a cramp, but Washington said that was not a factor in his decision to end Darvish’s night after only 91 pitches.
“I wanted to match up right there, a lefty against a lefty,” Washington said. “That was the fourth time they were coming around, and I just thought in that situation try to keep the game at 2-1. I thought Derek could come in and make some pitches on McLouth. It just didn’t work out.
“Once again, you make moves, and if the players get it done, great move. Players don’t get it done, you’re left open. So I’m left open.”
Washington’s decision is easy to second-guess because the statistics didn’t support his logic.
Darvish allowed only five hits and no walks in his 6 2/3 innings, and McLouth was 0-for-3 against him. Left-handed hitters had a higher batting average this season against the lefty Holland (.243) than the righty Darvish (.231).
Holland, who was in the starting rotation all season, had struggled down the stretch. He allowed 11 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in his last three appearances of the regular season. He threw 113 pitches in a Sunday start and 50 more in a rare relief appearance when he got the decision in Wednesday’s division-deciding loss to the Oakland A’s.
Washington had a few middle relievers in the bullpen who, by the numbers, were better options against a lefty than Holland.
Righty Alexi Ogando held lefties to a .234 average this season. Southpaw Robbie Ross held lefties to a .225 average. And red-hot righty Koji Uehara held lefties to a .188 average, not including his two strikeouts of lefties in a perfect eighth inning Friday night.
Washington, however, said he never considered anyone other than Holland when he made the decision to end his ace’s dominant performance.
“I went with who I wanted to go with – Derek Holland,” Washington said.
The numbers say that was the wrong decision. So do the results.