Los Angeles Angels pitcher CJ Wilson was asked to do something a bit unusual during his team’s 8-3 loss against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night — walk a left-handed hitter. Wilson, a lefthander, was instructed to walk Robinson Cano with runners on second and third and two outs in the third inning.
Mike Scioscia had Wilson walk Cano to get to first baseman Justin Smoak, who is a switch-hitter. Cano entered last night’s game 11 for 30 (.367) against Wilson in his career. Smoak is just 6 for 29 (.207) against Wilson and has hit .233 in his career from the right side. Of course, numbers don’t always tell the full story.
Smoak ripped a double to left-center field and gave Seattle a 4-0 lead. The Mariners never looked back. A reporter asked Wilson after the game if he found it strange that he was told to walk a lefthanded hitter to get to a switch-hitter.
“Yes,” he said, via Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. “No more questions on that one.”
Wilson later admitted that he threw a lousy pitch to Smoak, but it was obvious he was upset with the decision to walk Cano. Scioscia defended the decision by saying he was trying to take the bat away from Cano as much as possible.
“Right now, if you look at their lineup, Cano is a guy you want to try to minimize as much as you can,” the Angels manager said. “Smoak, give him credit, he got some big hits [Monday] night, some big hits [Tuesday] night, and if that continues, Cano will get some pitches to hit. But right now, you want to make Smoak swing the bat instead of Cano.”
I agree. The numbers favored the decision. Despite it being a lefty-lefty matchup, Cano obviously has not had much trouble hitting Wilson in his career. Give me a choice and I’ll pitch to Smoak over Cano 10 times out of 10.