Tony La Russa Doubles Down on Intentional Walk Decision: ‘Not Even a Close Call’

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Tony La Russa’s curious choice to intentionally walk Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner on a 1-2 count during backfired immediately in Thursday’s 11-9 loss, as Max Muncy followed it up with a three-run homer.

But the Chicago White Sox manager stuck to his guns on Friday.

“Pssssh, 24 hours later, I’m even more surprised,” La Russa told reporters of the backlash to his decision. “That’s not even a close call. I mean do you know what Muncy was hitting from the left-hand side this season? .125.”

With Freddie Freeman on second base and first base open, White Sox lefty Bennett Sousa went up 0-2 on Turner before throwing a wild pitch. That was when La Russa chose to intentionally walk the star shortstop, and Muncy made him pay.

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

Tony La Russa intentionally walked Trea Turner on a 1-2 count… then Max Muncy hit a 3-run HR!<br><br>(via <a href=”https://twitter.com/NBCSWhiteSox?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NBCSWhiteSox</a>)<a href=”https://t.co/TwFjZ4xGGT”>pic.twitter.com/TwFjZ4xGGT</a>

Depending on how you break down the numbers and the sample size you employ, you could make a case for or against La Russa’s unique decision.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Turner is hitting .333 (5-for-15) in a 1-2 count against left-handed pitchers this season.

“Turner is a tough hitter with no strikes, one strike, two strikes,” La Russa told reporters. “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.”

The question, then, is why La Russa didn’t simply intentionally walk Turner immediately. Why wait three pitches into the at-bat before pulling the trigger?

“That’s when the pitch got away,” La Russa answered after the game, referring to Sousa’s wild pitch.

No matter what La Russa’s argument was after the game, two things were abundantly clear. First, that White Sox fans and baseball pundits alike were beyond perplexed, and it some cases downright angry.

David Haugh @DavidHaugh

It’ll never happen but <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WhiteSox?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WhiteSox</a> fans deserve to hear Jerry Reinsdorf explain or defend why he believes Tony LaRussa is the manager capable of leading this team to the World Series that remains the goal. It’s that bad, yes. It’s that indefensible given the way this devolved.

And two, even if you agree with La Russa’s process for choosing to walk Turner, the outcome was a game-changing home run. The move, quite simply, blew up in his face.

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