Let me set the scene: Bottom 10, 2 Outs, Runner on 2nd, Nats up 4-3, Chase Utley at the plate.
What do you do?
There are generally two schools of thought in this situation:
1 - Never. Ever. Ever put the winning run on base (via Intentional Walk).
2 - Walk the batter to face the lesser hitter on deck - in this case, Ross Gload.
Let's break down the numbers involved in each decision...
1 - With two outs, the runner on second (in this situation Eric Kratz - a 6'4", 255lbs. catcher) will be running on contact. Despite the fact that Chase Utley is having a down year, arguably his worst since his rookie season, he is still a solid contact hitter - having made contact 84.1% of the time over his career. This year, Utley's BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play) is at a worst-since-2004 .273 - well below his career .310. Keep in mind that Drew Storen holds Left-Handed Batters to a .231 average with a .301 BABIP. So you have a Former All-Star, contact hitter against Drew Storen with a runner moving on contact - knowing full-well that a single ties the game. Meanwhile...
2 - On Deck is Ross Gload, who is hitting .257 this year, .250 as a Pinch Hitter, but a dreadful .157 hitter with RISP. The issue being that, if you walk Chase Utley the winning run is just 270 feet from scoring - 5 of Gload's 6 Doubles on the year have come in a Pinch Hitting role, and a double would easily score Utley from first. It should be noted that Ross Gload is listed as a 0.19 Clutch hitter, whereas Utley is listed at a -0.22 (according to Fangraphs).
Do you face an All-Star with your shutdown closer, knowing that a single will more than likely tie the game?
Or do you walk the All-Star to face a clutch Pinch Hitter - knowing that a single will tie the game and a double will lose the game?
Davey Johnson took the gamble, breaking baseball code, by intentionally walking Chase Utley to put the winning run on base. And he won.
It was the right move, as Gload grounded out to end the game. Davey Johnson out-managed Charlie Manuel several times in yesterdays 4-3 Game 1 win - but none bigger than his gutsy move with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th against MLB's best team.
Well done, Old Man.