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#pounditSaturday, March 2, 2024

David Ross defends bizarre decision to challenge Albert Pujols

David Ross in the dugout

Mar 10, 2020; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs manager David Ross looks on during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross on Sunday made a bizarre decision that set up Albert Pujols for his 695th career home run.

The Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals were locked in a scoreless game in the eighth inning Sunday, but Ross seemingly allowed Pujols to beat the Cubs in surprising fashion. After a one-out double by Tommy Edman, the Cardinals used Pujols as a pinch-hitter against Cubs lefty Brandon Hughes. Pujols has great numbers against lefties, and the Cubs could not pull Hughes after bringing him in to start the inning.

Logic dictated that Ross might opt to intentionally walk Pujols with first base open. Instead, Ross decided to challenge the slugger, and Pujols responded by hitting a two-run home run.

After the game, Ross defended his decision by pointing out that Paul Goldschmidt was looming two batters later, and that he was also worried about the Cardinals pinch-hitting for Brendan Donovan, who was on deck.

The Cubs may well have been in a no-win situation by this point. All the same, Pujols came into Sunday hitting .364 against lefties with 11 home runs in 113 plate appearances, and has been on fire lately. Goldschmidt may be the NL MVP, but it is entirely justifiable to bring in a righty to face him.

On the other hand, Ross at least made a small contribution to Pujols’ hunt for 700 home runs. That may not have crossed his mind, but some will appreciate him for it.


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