Last night’s loss, ultimately can be laid at Randy Choate’s feet, or so one would think. In all actuality, the blame lies at the feet of Mike Matheny, due to his bullpen management.
The Cards tied the game in the top of the seventh inning thanks to a Grichuk homer, before any relievers had been used. You’d think, with the score tied, Matheny would manage to the tie, not to the win, because the Cards (and baseball teams in general) never know when or if they’re going to score another run, so it pays to used relievers they can stretch out for more than one inning. Hey, here comes Marco Gonzales! He’s been a swing man this year, so Mike can easily get more than one inning out of him. Marco even set the side down in order, so he’s on form, and you didn’t need to pinch hit for him, so onto the eighth with him right, especially since we’re still tied?
The eighth inning is Neshek time, and he admittedly did a good job. In fact, Pat set down the side in order as well. The Cards didn’t score again, and since Neshek’s spot in the order didn’t come up, Mike could have kept Pat in to pitch the ninth right?
In comes Maness, and he, too, sets the side down in order. Now in the bottom of the inning, Matheny *does* pinch hit for Maness, sending in Bourjos. (Bourjos? Really? What happened to that Taveras guy, you know, the one who has already hit a pinch hit home run in this series?) And Bourjos goes meekly. Jon Jay does single, but nothing comes of it.
So who do we bring in? The LOOGY! Randy Choate comes in, promptly walks the first guy he faces (Brandon Crawford) and stays in. Then he allows a single to Juan Perez….and stays in! Never mind that I wouldn’t have started the inning with him, either extending Maness or bringing in Carlos Martinez, surely you pull Choate now right? Nope. He gets left in, and disaster ensues.
Now it should be noted that Matheny’s counterpart, Bruce Bochy, managed pretty conservatively himself, using a reliever an inning until the final inning, when Jon Jay singled. Then he pulled Javier Lopez and put in Sergio Romo, a risky move as Romo had struggled previously in the series. In this case though, I agree with the move, as action is better than inaction. Plus the move worked, as Romo retired Matt Holliday.
Heck even Ned Yost managed his bullpen better than Matheny did yesterday. In the sixth inning of KC’s game against Baltimore, the inning Yost usually struggles with, he played it smartly, bringing in Jason Frasor, who set down the side in order. Then he turned things over to his Bullpen Cerberus, each of whom also set down the side in order, finishing up the victory.
So when even Ned Yost outmanages you, you know you screwed up.
As always, thanks for reading.