Los Angeles Angels skipper Joe Maddon made one of the more head-scratching managerial decisions you'll ever see in an MLB game on Friday night.
With the Angels trailing the Texas Rangers 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Angels pitcher Austin Warren walked Marcus Semien on four pitches to load the bases. Warren walked the next batter as well, but this time it was intentional.
Rather than pitching to Corey Seager with one out and the bases loaded, Maddon opted to intentionally walk the two-time All-Star and concede a run.
Just a perfect reaction from Mike Trout.
Mitch Garver followed the intentional walk with a sacrifice fly to center and then Semien scored on a balk to push the Rangers' lead to 6-2. Texas' five-run inning would end there as Adolis Garcia popped out to first.
Maddon's unusual decision didn't ultimately cost his team the game, with the Angels ripping off seven unanswered runs for a 9-6 victory at Globe Life Field. But that didn't stop it from being a talking point postgame.
"I thought by walking Seager there, of course just trying to stay out of a big blow, and also just to stir the group up quite frankly," Maddon told reporters. "That's something you don't normally do and I thought just by going out there and doing something like that the team might respond, simple as that. Seager's that good. I know it was early in the game, but I thought it could have changed the momentum of the game."
"The balk is what really hurt. The balk made it a two-run moment as opposed to a one-run moment, which I was happy with. But nevertheless, I thought it was the right thing to do in that moment for us."
Believe it or not, this wasn't the first time Maddon called for an intentional walk with the bases juiced against the Rangers. As manager of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, Maddon gave a free pass to Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton with a four-run lead and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Rays struck out the next Rangers batter to close out the game.
Maddon has called for two of the eight known bases-loaded intentional walks in major league history (h/t Rangers PR). The only other manager to do it since the 1940s was Buck Showalter in 1998. Showalter's Arizona Diamondbacks intentionally walked home run king Barry Bonds with a two-run lead and two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the San Francisco Giants. Like Tampa Bay in '08, the D-Backs retired the next Giants batter to secure the victory.
But Maddon's intentional walk of Seager was the first time since 1881 that a team did it while losing in a game.
"Numbers are one thing, human beings are something completely different. And for me, the human element right there required what we did, that’s it," Maddon said. "It had nothing to do with math. It was just the right thing to do in the moment to minimize their damage, possibly, and also possibly to pump us up a bit. So there's a couple of different things going on there."