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Luis Hernandez...Crunch-Time Pinch Hitter


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You guys aren't going to believe this, but apparently our friend Luis was called upon to pinch-hit Thursday night. Not for a guy that had just been pulled due to injury, and not for a guy that got ejected from the game, just for a guy who I suppose is a worse hitter than he is.

I'll let Joe Posnanski explain:

Brilliant reader Jeff brings up a completely unrelated point that I actually spent a great deal of time thinking about Thursday night. With the score tied in the top of the ninth, with Cleveland’s Kerry Wood pitching, Royals manager Trey Hillman decided to pinch-hit for first batter Tony Pena Jr. Well, it only makes sense. You need to do whatever you can to get your leadoff hitter on base in the ninth.

But here’s what Trey did: He pinch hit Luis Hernandez. For those of you that don’t know: Luis Hernandez can’t hit. No, I’m serious, he can’t hit. Best I can tell, you couldn’t pick Luis Hernandez out of a lineup filled with Tony Penas. Hernandez is a lifetime .246/.292/.316 hitter … in the MINOR LEAGUES. To be fair to him, Luis Hernandez never claimed the ability to hit, he (like Tony Pena) is a good defensive shortstop and his value is as a late inning defensive replacement and day-game-after-a-night-game stand-in. There are worse things.

This is the man Trey Hillman decided to use as a pinch hitter to lead off the ninth inning with a tie score. Trey did this even though he had Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen on the bench, both left-handed hitters, both a million times better than Luis Hernandez and both (as Jeff pointed out) hit home runs off of Kerry Wood just a couple of weeks earlier in the Royals stunning ninth inning comeback. I stared at the television blankly, like I was looking at one of those magic eye puzzles and I couldn’t see the sailboat.

My friend Joel Goldberg was filling in for the hoarse Ryan Lefebvre as TV announcer, and so it was left to him to try to explain this mystery — it was like asking a Coca Cola employee from another department to explain the strategies behind New Coke. I thought Joel tried hard: He suggested that Trey was probably “saving” Teahen (and, presumably, Jacobs) for a situation when they might drive in a run.

Well, that makes as much sense as anything else. Here’s the problem — it was absolutely apparent from looking at the lineup that the Royals were not going to have another pinch-hit opportunity. After Pena was the top of the lineup — David DeJesus, then Coco Crisp, then Billy Butler — and Hillman wasn’t going to pinch-hit for any of them. It was obvious that Teahen and Butler would die on the bench, like those unused timeouts in NFL games.

But, you know, baseball managers make strange movies — Trey Hillman makes more than his share. So, in the end, you move on. Here’s the punch-line though: Teahen did get into the game. Next inning, Billy Butler led off with a single. And this is what Trey Hillman did: He put in Mark Teahen. To … pinch-run.

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I would gladly go through another dozen years of losing if Joe Posnanski was the lead writer for The Sun. And I'm only half-joking.

My question, though, is: What's the over-under on Coco Crisp going Teddy Ballgame on those seagulls? I'd like to place a bet on him showing up today with a minigun.

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