Ausmus would rather avoid early small ball

Tigers manager said his strategy is to play for big innings

Ausmus would rather avoid early small ball

DETROIT -- Brad Ausmus said he actually isn't a fan of manufacturing offense early in a game. It didn't look that way on Saturday night.

"I'm not huge on small ball early in a game. I'd rather play for the big inning," the Tigers manager said. "If you have a pitching matchup that would lead to a low-scoring affair, I might be a little more open to it for sure."

The Tigers had two sacrifice bunts in the first five innings, both with nobody out. In both cases, though, the bunt call wasn't on at the time.

Andrew Romine's third-inning bunt with Nick Castellanos on first base was actually Romine bunting on his own, according to Ausmus.

"He didn't get the bunt [sign] from me," Ausmus said. "I think he was just bunting for a hit."

Romine bunted into an out at second base. Rajai Davis singled Romine over to third, where Ian Kinsler's single scored him.

Two innings later, Davis stepped to the plate with Castellanos on second and Romine on first, and he laid down a sacrifice bunt on a 1-0 pitch.

"Actually, he was bunting to start, but when it went 1-0 [on the count], I took the bunt off," Ausmus said. "I don't think he saw that it was taken off and he ended up bunting, but he actually had the freedom to swing there once it went 1-0. That being said, it didn't bother me that he bunted, put the go-ahead run in scoring position."

It's clearly not a matter of avoiding a double play with the speedy Davis running down the first-base line. The benefit was to give the Tigers a chance to score two runs on a base hit, rather than one.

The bunt became an option only because Castellanos, who led off the inning with a double, did not advance to third on Romine's single, having hesitated while Romine's line drive was falling in short left field.

"I think he got caught in between," Ausmus said. "He was unsure if it was going to be caught and then he froze. Then when he realized it wasn't going to be caught, he felt like he'd be thrown out at third trying to advance.

"I sympathize, because it happened to me once when I was playing. I understand, but it better not be a habit."

The Tigers entered Sunday tied for 11th in the American League with 20 sacrifice bunts, five more than the league-low Oakland Athletics. Four of Detroit's 20 sac bunts have come from starting pitchers during Interleague Play.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.