Last night in one of the nuttiest managerial decisions I remember, the Marlins decided to intentionally walk the Rays 9 hitter Dioner Navarro with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs in the bottom of the eight in a tied game to get to the leadoff hitter, right-handed BJ Upton. Upton coincidentally is the reigning American League Player of the Week. Granted they had fallen behind 3-0 on Navi, but it would not have taken much scouting to make the proper decision to challenge Navarro.
Including last night Navarro's splits on plate appearances with 3 balls on him are .133/.278/.167. These are numbers that would embarass Jeff Niemann at the plate. Heading into last night, Navi was 0-3 with a walk in plate appearances where the count reached 3-0.
This season, Navarro's splits batting left-handed vs right-handed pitching are .205/.234/.291. How about BJ Upton's numbers vs right handed-pitching? .264/.323/.418. Upton has OPSed .154 higher vs righties than lefties in 2009.
Well, what about the right-handed Brian Sanches on the mound? Is he a righty killer? Hardly. His career OPS allowed to right handed hitters is .877 vs .895 against lefties. Not to mention Sanches has a BB/9 of 5.6 for his career. Should they really put themselves in a position to have a wild pitcher walk in the go ahead run in the bottom of the 8th inning?
The baseball gods quickly struck with a vengence upon Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez as Upton promptly smacked a bases clearing double, blowing the game open. Let's hope the Marlins continue to fear Navi for the rest of the weekend.
In other Navi hacktastic news, it seems he has developed some real predictable tendencies at the plate. Going back to the beginning of the Mets series Navi has picked up his first strike of a plate appearance looking 13 times, swinging 4 times, and bunting foul twice. Beyond that Navi has accumulated 26 swinging strikes or fouls for strike 2 or beyond. His sole called strike for strike 2 or 3 in that time period was the first game of the Mets series. With that quick a trigger, its no wonder walking is hardly a possibility. Pitchers should be tossing a first pitch strike and straying from the zone for the rest of the at-bat.