CHICAGO – A day after ordering a two-strike intentional walk that backfired, Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he’d do it all over again.
In the sixth inning of Thursday's 11-9 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, La Russa walked right-handed hitting speedster Trea Turner with a 1-2 count. Left-handed hitting Max Muncy followed with a three-run homer off lefty Bennett Sousa that opened the Los Angeles lead to 10-5.
Muncy had five RBIs in his return after missing 11 games with left elbow inflammation. He entered hitting .150 to Turner’s .303.
Before Friday’s home game against Texas, the 77-year-old La Russa referred to a line he said was passed on to him by former White Sox and Baltimore manager Paul Richards.
“Trust your gut. Don’t cover your butt,” La Russa said.
Freddie Freeman was at second in the sixth on Thursday after Sousa bounced an 0-2 slider for a wild pitch. With first-base open, La Russa ordered the intentional walk to Turner, whom he believed represented a bigger threat.
“Pssssh, 24 hours later, I’m even more surprised,” La Russa said of the reaction. “That’s not even a close call. I mean do you know what Muncy was hitting from the left-hand side this season? .125.”
The move was all about Turner, who had already driven in a run when he legged out an infield single.
“Turner is a tough hitter with no strikes, one strike, two strikes,” La Russa said. “He shortens up and he’s got all kinds of ways to put the ball in play and hurt you.
“Now, if it had been a right-handed pitcher, yeah, I probably would have tried to make a pitch.”
Turner said he was astonished when he was sent to first. Muncy admitted he was riled, then lofted a 2-2 pitch from Sousa just over the left-center wall for his fourth homer.
“Since then, somebody sent me some stats about what Turner hits with 1-2 counts,” La Russa said. “He’s like the third- or fourth-best hitter in baseball over the past three years. I mean, we all know that."
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