McKeon-esque move to start Ruggiano

Mike Redmond’s decision to start Justin Ruggiano on Sunday was a move straight out of the Jack McKeon playbook.

Before the Marlins beat the Giants, 7-2, in the series finale on Sunday at AT&T Park, Redmond explained why he started Ruggiano instead of Juan Pierre.

Of late, Ruggiano has started against left-handed pitchers, with Pierre getting the nod against right-handers. Since the Giants started Matt Cain, even Ruggiano didn’t think he would be in the starting lineup, especially after he was hitless in five at-bats in Saturday’s 2-1 loss in 11 innings.

But Redmond opted to go with Ruggiano, a power threat in left field.

Redmond noted that since the team was playing so many close, low-scoring games, Ruggiano could deliver a run with one swing of the bat. Redmond noted that Cain is a fastball pitcher, which plays to Ruggiano’s strengths.

The decision turned out to be brilliant.

Leading off, Ruggiano belted a home run on Cain’s second pitch of the game. And in the ninth inning, Ruggiano connected again, delivering a two-run shot that iced the victory.

Reminded of his reasoning postgame, Redmond quipped: “That was McKeon-esque.”

Redmond’s reference was to McKeon’s gut-decisions that repeatedly worked when he managed the 2003 Marlins to a World Series championship.

So now what does Redmond do as the Marlins move forward? Stay with Ruggiano or go back to Pierre?

The easy answer is to say Redmond will go with the hot hand, and based on Sunday, it was Ruggiano, who paces the team with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.

That said, Pierre is hitting .316 in June, and he had a 14-game hitting streak snapped over the weekend.

Most likely, Redmond will stick with Ruggiano as long as he is producing. If not, look for him to go back to Pierre.

Also consider Ruggiano’s splits at home and on the road. All 11 of his home runs, and 19 of his RBIs, have come away from Marlins Park. At home, Ruggiano is batting .200 with four doubles and nine RBIs in 90 at-bats.

Pierre is hitting .260 with a .305 on-base percentage at home.

Pretty much, Ruggiano will start against left-handers.

Otherwise, matchups will decide, unless someone simply takes off and secures the left field job.

Joe Frisaro

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