1. Higgy’s 3-Run Bomb After IKF Intentional Walk
On Wednesday night, a battle of aces took place. The Rays trotted Shane McClanahan out to the mound against Nestor Cortes in what was a fun battle. But one manager exuded confidence in his starter. The other … didn’t.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, McClanahan fell victim to an error allowing Josh Donaldson, the first batter of the inning, to reach base. Then the left-hander got Gleyber Torres to fly out and Aaron Hicks to strike out. Two outs, Donaldson on third. Isiah Kiner-Falefa coming to the plate.
No offense to IKF, but he’s not exactly Aaron Judge. He’s been fairly clutch this year, but he has zero home runs and isn’t an intimidating bat. More than manageable for McClanahan. But manager Kevin Cash’s game of chess went too far.
He called for the intentional walk of IKF, which actually wasn’t a terrible move, because it brought up Kyle Higashioka, who is, statistically, one of the worst hitters in all of MLB — no exaggeration. But on what planet does adding traffic to the basepaths against the Yankees ever do you any good?
On a 1-0 count, Higgy correctly guessed fastball and demolished one into the left field seats for a three-run homer to make it 4-0 Yankees. The eventual score ended up being 4-3. Cash wasn’t exactly wrong in his decision to IBB IKF, but it was the fifth inning. McClanahan was only at 81 pitches. There was no reason to signal to him that you’d rather him face a worse hitter that early in the game with the stakes fairly low. Additionally, why not just attack IKF and potentially give McClanahan breathing room with Higgy leading off the next inning?
Wait … maybe the Rays aren’t actually broken? Maybe their joyless ways are just finally catching up to them.