Tony La Russa is nothing if not consistent.
The Chicago White Sox manager was hit with a torrent of criticism earlier this season when he issued an intentional walk to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Trea Turner on a 1-2 count, then watched the next batter, Max Muncy, hit a three-run homer that would put the game out of reach.
La Russa dismissed any notion that what he did was unusual, let alone ill-advised, after the game, even though a two-strike intentional walk had only been done twice since 2014. Clearly, he wasn't second-guessing himself.
We now know that for sure, as the 77-year-old did the exact same thing against the Cleveland Guardians on Friday, having reliever Jake Diekman intentionally walk rookie Oscar González on a 1-2 count to load the bases with two outs in the seventh inning.
Tony La Russa has intentionally walked another batter on a 1-2 count
The White Sox were already down 5-2 pic.twitter.com/BHnLONyJ3B
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) August 20, 2022
Like the Turner intentional walk, first base had just opened up on a stolen base, but this time, it worked out. The next batter, Owen Miller, flew out to right field to end the inning.
La Russa once again doubled down (quadrupled down?) after the game. Like he did with Turner, he ridiculed the intentional walk was something worth arguing over before citing González's batting average.
From The Athletic:
“We’ve been through this before, the most ridiculous thing in this season has been (reaction to) the 1-2 walk. I mean that’s the most ridiculous,” he said. “That’s what I say. Anybody says…I mean. I don’t want to get into it, man. Gets me upset. Ain’t a baseball man that I know would pitch to that one guy (Trea Turner) instead of Muncy and now, if he leaves the left-hander in (Jones), not going to face Gonzalez, he’s hitting .300.”
González entered Friday hitting .306/.326/.459, a strong start to his career but perhaps not a sustainable one given that he has a well-above average .379 batting average on balls in play while striking out 21.6 percent of the time and walking 2.6 percent of the time.
After 1-2 counts, he has been a .310/.322/.414 hitter with 23 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances.
While the end of the seventh inning worked out for La Russa, the rest of the game didn't. The Guardians won 5-2 behind a career night from Triston McKenzie, who struck out 14 while allowing two earned runs in seven innings.