The popular discussion about this game will revolve around the blown call that ended it, but that kind of stuff will happen from time to time, just ask the Padres. For my interests, the real discussion should revolve around exactly what Don Mattingly was thinking late in the game.
As it got down to the late innings of a tie game on the road, it wasn’t hard to see that Mattingly was going to save closer Javy Guerra for a save situation. Many of us speculated on that move well before it happened, and sure enough, Matt Guerrier entered the game in the ninth.
Now Guerrier has been excellent this season and Guerra has struggled lately, but overall, Guerra is the better reliever and he’s the team’s closer. Yet instead of making sure that, you know, the game actually continues, Guerra was saved for when the Dodgers took the lead, a lead that never came.
That was a managerial mistake, and Guerrier compounded it by making a mistake of his own with the walk of Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers gave the Dodgers a gift by bunting into an out without advancing the runner, but the Dodgers gave it right back when Nyjer Morgan stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by A.J. Ellis.
Now this is the point where I felt Mattingly’s decision making got really odd.
Mattingly proceeded to intentionally walk Rickie Weeks to put runners on first and third with one out. If you’re going to go that route, the next course of action is to:
1) Walk George Kottaras to load the bases and create a force play at home.
2) Play the corners in and at double play depth up the middle, and try to induce a grounder.
Instead, Mattingly brought in Jerry Hairston Jr. from the outfield to make five infielders and then proceeded to play all of them in, negating the point of walking Weeks to begin with. The fact that the walk was useless was further driven home when Weeks took second base on defensive indifference, thus showing that the Dodgers never cared about creating a force at second.
So if they had no intention of using the force play at second, why didn’t they walk Kottaras after they walked Weeks? Presumably because they didn’t want to face Ryan Braun with the bases loaded, but if that was indeed the case, why not pitch to Weeks since they weren’t banking on a force play being around to begin with?
1) Pitch to Weeks and pitch to Kottaras.
2) Walk Weeks, play the corners in and the middle at double play depth, and try to induce Kottaras into hitting a grounder.
3) Walk Weeks, walk Kottaras, and face Braun.
I prefer going with option one or option two over option three by a lot, but all seem to make some semblance of logical sense. Instead, Mattingly went with option four, which involved still having to face both Kottaras and Braun, both with no force play in tact if Guerrier did his job, meaning they actively choose to face one of the best hitters in the National League and gave the Brewers two chances to win it.
With option one, you potentially miss having to pitch to Braun. With options two and three (especially two), there’s a chance you can get out of it with one pitch. Yet, Mattingly seems to have chosen the scenario that both gives the opposing team the most attempts at driving in the runner from third and results in having to face the best hitter on the Brewers.
Granted, most of this discussion was negated when Guerrier unintentionally walked Kottaras, but it still revealed a lot of what Mattingly was or wasn’t thinking.
It’s just so … what?
As far as the last play of the game, he was out, as Mike Petriello‘s GIF shows.
I initially thought Ellis completely whiffed on the tag, but having now seen it slowed down, I see where the glove bends back as he makes contact with Morgan.
Terrible setup and throw by Matt Kemp, by the way.
What is Adam Kennedy on the team for?
I feel no more confident with him up at the plate as opposed to a pitcher, and quite frankly, he’s done nothing in recent years to prove he’s a significant improvement.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Guerrier was signed for three years by Colletti and is the 4th best reliever to 3 guys making $500k.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) April 19, 2012