Chess Match: Wedge's strategy works
Decision to walk Rodriguez in fifth pays off for Indians
CLEVELAND -- Entering Thursday's Division Series opener at Jacobs Field, Joe Torre had managed 122 games in the postseason, while Eric Wedge was set to make his debut. The Indians manager won the strategic battle, at least in Game 1.Passing on the MVP
The situation: Alex Rodriguez bats with one out in the fifth inning, runners on second and third, and the Yankees trailing by just a 4-3 margin.
The decision: Wedge elects to face Jorge Posada with the bases loaded by intentionally walking Rodriguez, who hit six of his 54 home runs off the Indians this season.The outcome: After going 3-0 on Posada, C.C. Sabathia fights back to strike out Posada on a letter-high 96-mph fastball. Hideki Matsui pops out to shortstop Jhonny Peralta on a 2-0 pitch to end the threat. The analysis: "With the situation with the base open and Jorge, they can get a double play with him. I don't think there's any question that if it presents itself, they're going to go somewhere else [other than facing Rodriguez]." -- Torre Why Ohlendorf?
The situation: Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang was unraveling in the fifth inning, when he allowed a two-out RBI single to Kenny Lofton, upping Cleveland's lead to 7-3.
The decision: Torre summoned Ross Ohlendorf from the bullpen, who had pitched 6 1/3 innings during the regular season, to face Indians right fielder Franklin Gutierrez.The outcome: Ohlendorf walked Gutierrez to put two runners on base and subsequently surrendered a two-run double to Casey Blake, putting the Yankees behind, 9-3. The analysis: "We had [Luis] Vizcaino up when the fifth inning started, with the one-run deficit, and then when Victor [Martinez] hit the two-run home run, then we changed it and went to Ohlendorf. If you're not going to use those kids at that juncture, we're down early in the game, then they shouldn't be on your roster." -- Torre Early relief
The situation: Holding a comfortable 9-3 lead after five innings, Wedge still needed to replace Sabathia after his pitch count reached 114.
The decision: Rafael Perez, Cleveland's left-handed setup man, was summoned to work in middle relief.The outcome: Perez absolutely dominated the Yankees, retiring all six hitters he faced while striking out four.
The analysis: "It was big, the job that Rafael Perez did tonight, particularly after us scoring some runs and separating a bit for Rafael to go out there and control the ball game not for one but for two innings. And the second was at the top of their order. " -- Wedge
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.