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Francona: Walking Longoria not preferred option

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  August 5, 2009 12:45 AM

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If you're wondering why the Red Sox didn't walk Evan Longoria in the 13th inning of an eventual 4-2 loss tonight, manager Terry Francona indicated that he felt the club also would have had to walk Ben Zobrist to make the decision worthwhile.

Speaking after Longoria hit a two-run homer off Takashi Saito to give the Rays a much-needed win, Francona said that walking Longoria and Zobrist would have left Saito facing Joe Dillon with the bases loaded. That scenario introduced the possibility of a game-ending walk, something the Red Sox did not want to risk given some of Saito's issues this season.

Though the Sox did walk Longoria in the ninth, that was a slightly different situation. The Rays had a man at second with one (not two), and the walk opened up the possibility of a double play. Zobrist subsequently obliged with a bouncer up the middle that Nick Green fielded while touching second base with his right foot before throwing to first.

"If you're going to go all the way to the bases loaded, you're looking at a guy with 40 pitches,'' Francona said of Saito. "I wish the ball wouldn't have gone out, but I don't think [walking Longoria] was the right thing to do."

Though Clay Buchholz was warming as the emergency reliever, Francona said the Sox had not planned to bring Buchholz into the game until the start of the 14th inning so that the pitcher, who is scheduled to start on Saturday, had sufficient time to get ready.

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