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Facing Cabrera wrong move from the start

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  May 24, 2011 01:01 AM

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CLEVELAND — Terry Francona was defended here on Saturday when he decided to rest Daniel Bard in the eighth inning of the game against the Cubs. It looked like a bad decision when Matt Albers blew up. But from here, it was still the right move.

But that wasn't true tonight when Francona decided to pitch to Asdrubal Cabrera in the eighth inning.

It was 2-2 with two outs and a runner on second when Cabrera came to the plate to face Bard.

(Bard, by the way, said he has felt great since getting Friday and Saturday off. But we digress.)

Cabrera arrived at the plate with eight hits and seven RBIs in his previous nine at-bats including a home run earlier in the game. Shin-Soo Choo, the on-deck hitter, was 0 for 3 in the game with two strikeouts and was hitting .246.

“No,” said Francona when asked if he gave any thought to walking Cabrera. “I know what he’s doing. But [Choo] is pretty good, too. Sometimes it can almost be an advantage when you have an open base. You can pitch backwards, do some things.”

But Bard threw two fastballs, the second low and away. Cabrera drove it deep to left field for a double. That's not pitching backward. That's challenging a guy who is stupid hot.

“Cabrera’s seeing the ball really well right now. He’s hitting pretty much anything,” Bard said.

Francona had three options:

• Pitch to Cabrera

• Walk Cabrera, have Bard pitch to Choo.

• Walk Cabrera, have lefty Rich Hill come to face the lefthanded hitting Choo.

If it's me, I go with Door No. 2. Bard's stuff plays against lefties. Choo was terrific last season but Cabrera has been much better this season and was literally the hottest hitter in baseball. I'd takes my chances with Bard against a .246 hitter than the Venezuelan Babe Ruth of the moment.

The gutsy move would be to use Hill. But taking Bard out is risky business. Hill has been good against lefties but he also had pitched in five games this season.

Of course, one Cabrera doubled Bard was out and Hill whiffed Choo on four pitches. That's baseball.

Meanwhile:

• Clay Buchholz has a 1.64 ERA in five starts this month.

• The Indians are 19-4 at home, 8-0 in one-run games.

• The Yankees and Rays also lost. Is the AL East really this mediocre?

• Pedroia looked a little shaken up after the game. The screw in his foot, which was needed at the time, is really giving him some problems and that will be the case all season. I suspect that's a big reason he is hitting .246 with 11 RBIs.

• Thanks to everybody for reading. Back at it tomorrow.

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