Okay, I'll begin this with the disclaimer that I'm extremely pissed about how that game ended.
Upon further review, the following that have been discussed as reasons to finally get rid of Dusty that I don't believe are really obvious manager errors (in order of occurrence:
- Taking Leake out after 6 innings – He was at 99 pitches. That's a perfect pitch count for him. They were up 6, and had a well rested bullpen. No reason to tax a young arm.
- Defensive replacement for Miguel Cairo – Really, we need a new 3rd baseman in the 9th inning of a 6-run game? Doesn't that seem like more of a slap in the face to both Paul Janish and Cairo to take Cairo out and to give Janish 1 defensive inning?
- Defensive replacement for Laynce Nix – if memory serves me well, Nix is actually a pretty good fielder. Plus, see above.
- Lincoln in the 9th - Again, I can't believe I’m typing this, but he’d only thrown 19 pitches. That’s not that many pitches. I mean, he’d gone 1-2-3 in the 7th and 8th. He’d thrown more pitches before, even this year. And, again, they were up 6 runs! Might it have been a good time for Carlos Fisher to clean up? Maybe. Maybe that’s when you get Masset back out there to regain his confidence. Or maybe you leave the pitcher that’s throwing well in for the 9th.
- Massett in the 9th – 9-5 with runners on the corners. Here's an opportunity to show a guy some confidence after a rough outing the day before. Don't look at the season ERA - it's ugly, yes. But in May, he's been money with a 1.17 WHIP and 1.93 ERA coming into the game. All he has to do is get 3 outs without giving up 2 runs of his own. Not necessarily THE best decision, but I can see an argument supporting this one.
- Bringing in Cordero – I can't believe I'm typing this, but I don't think this was a bad decision either. I don't think it was the correct decision, though, given that Rhodes had just K'd the hottest Braves' hitter, but it certainly is defensible. Cordero's really not <em>that</em> HR-prone. He gave up 2 in 66 innings last year!!
All in all, there are logical explanations for Dusty’s bullpen use. Especially Lincoln starting off the 9th, the decision I’d been most angry about. 19 pitches isn’t that many, and he went 6 up 6 down.
Now, Dusty’s not perfect. Here are some decisions that I think were poor:
- Using Miguel Cairo instead of Paul Janish – Okay, Miguel Cairo got a base hit with the bases loaded in the 2nd inning. Maybe Janish gets a base hit there, but probably not. Whole new ballgame without that hit that extended the inning to Votto. That said, use Janish. He’s not only the better player now, he’ll be the better player for the future of your team.
- Pinch hitting Owings for Leake in the 7th and not pitching Owings – Leake’s batting .353. .353!!! If you’re going to pinch hit a pitcher for him, even if that pitcher is Owings, you better use that pitcher. Otherwise, either let the guy bat for himself (given he’s gotten 2 hits that game), or pinch hit one of your better hitters (Rolen, Gomes, Heisey even Janish). Plus, what a perfect time to keep your long reliever ready for, you know, long relief. Yes, he threw last night. 5 pitches. He can go again. He’s thrown the ball to the catcher in a live game 5 times since May 7. He needs the work. And we were up 6. Not a bad time for him.
- Not getting someone up after back to back singles to lead off the 9th – Dusty, you’re using a pitcher who hasn’t pitched 3 innings in years. Yes, you’re up 6 runs, but after back to back singles to lead off the 9th, you better have someone loosening. During that 3rd batter, you better send Ramon out to stall a little, just in case, you know.
I think that last point is the biggest one of all. Not being prepared to relieve a pitcher who you know is being somewhat stretched in the 9th inning to close out a game was a terrible decision.
Ah, I feel much better. Thanks RR for being my shrink late this night!