Former Giants second baseman and fan favorite Robby Thompson has been climbing the coaching ranks since he became San Francisco's first-base coach in 2000. As the Seattle Mariners' acting manager with Eric Wedge recovering from a mild stroke, Thompson learned a coaching lesson the hard way on Thursday.
Thompson's Mariners entered the ninth inning with a 7-2 lead over the Red Sox, but Thompson's gaffe fueled a six-run comeback that ended in a 8-7 Boston win.
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The Mariners had right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina warming up in the bullpen alongside lefty Oliver Perez. When Thompson emerged from the dugout to pull struggling closer Tom Wilhelmsen for Medina -- the righty -- Thompson initially indicated to the bullpen with his left arm before realizing his mistake and dropping it quickly in favor of the right.
But the umpires saw it, and MLB rules stipulate that when you have a lefty and a righty warming up, you have to bring in a pitcher who throws with the same arm a manager uses to indicate to the bullpen. So after Medina, who began his move to the mound, was sent back into the 'pen, Thompson was forced to bring in Perez.
The switch-hitting Shane Victorino hit a two-run single and Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI base hit to cut Seattle's lead to one. David Ortiz batted next -- finally the left-on-left matchup Thompson was looking for -- and he struck out.
Medina then entered with runners on first and second and could not close the door as the Red Sox earned their 11th walk-off win of the season.
"We wanted to go to Medina there and if we had to go to Ollie, he was the next guy," said Thompson after the loss. "If there was anything today for me, it was a lesson learned that if you make a motion with either hand, that's it. I didn't realize that.
"I did point to the pen, but I didn't have time to [tap his other arm] for the right-hander. He'd already turned. That's when I wanted to make sure he knew who I wanted to go to and [crew chief] Gary Darling said it's too late, you raised your left hand up."
Thompson, 51, spent his entire 11-year MLB career in Orange and Black. The two-time All-Star hit .257 with 119 home runs in 1,304 games. His best season came in 1993, when he hit collected career highs in hits (154), home runs (19), RBI (65), on-base percentage (.375), and slugging percentage (.496). In 128 games that he won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove.