Some days All-Star closers just don't have their best stuff.
Wednesday was apparently that day for Rays reliever Brad Boxberger.
The right-hander entered the game in the 10th inning and gave up a single to leadoff hitter Adam Eaton. After a stolen base and an error, Eaton found himself on third with nobody out. Tyler Saladino couldn't score Eaton on a pop fly as Boxberger finally got the first out of the inning.
Then the unusual call from Rays manager Kevin Cash came. He elected to intentionally walk not only Jose Abreu but Melky Cabrera as well in order to get to Avisail Garcia, who hit a three-run home run earlier in the game.
With the bases loaded, Boxberger walked Garcia to bring in Eaton and end the game.
The Rays' All-Star closer was not thrilled about Cash's move to say the least.
"Yeah, I understand walking Abreu in that situation, maybe setting up a double play, but walking a lefty to get to another righty, I wouldn’t see it in my game,” Boxberger told reporters after the game. "With a base open, I could’ve pitched around him and made a good pitch and had some weak contact. But without a base open, it’s kind of hard to pitch around someone.”
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Boxberger is actually better against lefties this year (.216 BA) compared to righties (.225 BA). He's also been better in situations with runners on first and third (yet to allow a hitter to reach base in five tries) compared to pitching with the bases loaded (.250 BA in four tries with the one hit being a grand slam).
"It’s not my call," Boxberger said. "I can’t. I’m not the boss. I can’t say anything at that point. I’m not going to overstep my boundaries. It’s the manager’s decision and it’s what he wanted to do.”