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April 8, 2010

One-Hoppers

GAME STORY: Dotel gets the better of Manny

by John Perrotto

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Rare is the time someone wants to pitch to Manny Ramirez with the game on the line. Then again, the gregarious and fun-loving Octavio Dotel is a bit of a rare bird.

The willingness of Dotel, the Pirates' new closer in 2010, to pitch to Ramirez, the Dodgers' feared cleanup hitter, is part of the reason why Pittsburgh beat Los Angeles 4-3 in 10 innings on Wednesday night at PNC Park.

Dotel, signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending the last two seasons as a set-up man with the White Sox, came on the pitch the top of the ninth inning with the scored tied 3-3. He promptly surrendered a leadoff double to pinch hitter Jamey Carroll, who then took third on a wild pitch.

Dotel appeared to be serious trouble with the Dodgers' lineup turning over and the potential winning run standing just 90 feet away. However, Dotel got Rafael Furcal to tap back to the mound while Carroll held third then struck out Matt Kemp looking at a 93-mph fastball.

As Andre Ethier stepped into the batter's box with Ramirez on deck, pitching coach Joe Kerrigan visited the mound to discuss various options with Dotel. The visit was quick as Dotel said would rather pitch to Ramirez than Ethier.

Dotel walked Ethier on five pitches then struck out Ramirez to end the inning. In the 10th,Ronny Cedeno's one-out single with the bases loaded off Ramon Ortiz (remember him?) gave the Pirates the victory.

"In that situation, I'll take right-against-right against right-against-left," Dotel said. "I know how good Manny is. Everybody knows how good Manny is but you've got to play the percentages there."

Dotel has held right-handed hitters to a .659 in his 12-year career while lefties have a .735 mark. The fact that Ramirez is now 0-for-8 against Dotel also made pitching to him a good percentage play. Dotel, though, said he had no idea Ramirez is hitless against him.

"At that point, all you're thinking about is getting out of the inning," Dotel said. "Once they got the guy on third with no one out, all I could do was relax myself as much as I could and go pitch-to-pitch. The main thing is not panic. That's the key."

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

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