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New Hall of Famer admits he has ‘tossed and turned’ about iconic Red Sox moment

NASHVILLE — On the day he was introduced as the newest member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, legendary manager Jim Leyland acknowledged that a certain moment at Fenway Park more than 10 years ago still sticks with him as he looks back at his career in the dugout.

Leyland, who was voted into the Hall by the 16-member Contemporary Baseball Era Committee on Sunday, earned 1,769 victories in 22 seasons managing the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies and Tigers from 1986 to 2013. A three-time Manager of the Year winner, Leyland won the 1997 World Series with Florida and won two other pennants. Still, he’s haunted by Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS, when David Ortiz’s iconic grand slam tied the game and ultimately flipped the series in Boston’s favor.





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With Detroit leading by a game in the series and 5-1 in the eighth inning of Game 2 after a dominant seven innings from Max Scherzer, Leyland made the ill-fated decision to turn to reliever Joaquin Benoit with two outs and the bases loaded. Ortiz lifted the first pitch from Benoit — a changeup the slugger was waiting on — into the bullpen to tie the game. The Red Sox went on to win the game, 6-5, and the series in six games en route to their third World Series title in 10 seasons.

At the Winter Meetings on Monday, Leyland said he thought about going with lefty Phil Coke but instead went to the veteran Benoit, who had posted a 2.01 ERA while recording 73 strikeouts in 67 regular season innings in 2013.

“I had (Coke) warmed up, as well as Benoit, and I decided to go — Coke was pretty good against Ortiz, but he hadn’t pitched much lately, and I was afraid of him being a little bit wild,” Leyland said. “I ended up going with Benoit, who was my best pitcher, and he threw the right pitch, he just didn’t locate the right pitch. But that’s the one that I have tossed and turned a little bit about.

“You know, (Mike) Napoli was on deck, and at that time you could still bring pitchers in and out, so that was not a problem. It was on me. I’m not sure today if I made that right decision or not. I think I did, because I went to my best relief pitcher, and the guy that I felt had the ability to make the best pitch. But it could be a question.”

Leyland is the first manager elected to the Hall of Fame since 2014, when Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa all went in. Lou Piniella fell one vote short of induction, receiving just 11 of the 12 votes required. Leyland got 15 of 16.

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