No, Benoit and Leyland were not caught using coke. In fact, if you listen to and watch the Tigers’ skipper, you might think he was on anything but cocaine.
In any case, I am wondering if the correct pitcher to face Big Papi wasn’t Coke rather than Benoit. Benoit actually has a career reverse split, likely because he throws so many change ups, but my platoon projection for him is still positive. Coke has a pretty large platoon split, so, accordingly, I have Coke as much better against lefties than Benoit. Even strictly using career numbers, Coke has actually done a little better (wOBA-wise) against LHB than Benoit. And since managers are often reluctant to use closers for more than one inning, it would not be totally unreasonable to nick Benoit just a tad for coming into the 8th inning rather than the 9th.
Now, once the Sox tie up the game and Detroit doesn’t score in the top of the 9th, I can’t think of any reason not to leave in Benoit to pitch the bottom of the 9th. Once he’s out, he obviously can’t come back if the Tigers should take the lead in extra innings. It is hard to say what kind of a pitcher Porcello is as a reliever, but he is probably not one of their better short relievers. In other words, the difference between Porcello and Benoit in the 9th is likely very large.
Leyland has also been criticized in the media and blogosphere for not letting Scherzer go a little longer. I will almost never fault a manager for taking out a starter “too soon.” As many of you know, I am a big believer in taking out starters as soon as possible (especially, especially, especially non-ace starters), since almost all relievers are better than starters once the starter faces the lineup for the 3rd time, especially since you can start looking for favorable platoon match ups. Even a great pitcher like Scherzer gets a lot worse the 3rd and 4th times he faces the batting order. In addition, there is no evidence that a pitcher who is thus far pitching a great game through 6 or 7 innings, is any more likely to continue pitching well than is a pitcher who has been pitching less well. So I think taking out Scherzer after 7 is just fine as long as you replace him with an excellent short reliever, including the effects of chaining.