I think Don Mattingly is probably the best manager the Dodgers have had since Tommy Lasorda, but his management of yesterday’s game against the Giants exposed what is probably his most glaring weakness.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the Dodgers down one run, the team basically hit the lottery by somehow managing to get Juan Rivera and James Loney to not make outs.
That brought up Juan Uribe in what was clearly a traditional sacrifice situation, especially considering that Uribe sucks. However, while he does have 60 sacrifice bunts in his career over 5121 plate appearances, he’s had only one sacrifice bunt in the last three seasons over the course of 941 plate appearances. As such, it’s safe to say that he’s not exactly accustomed to bunting.
Uribe executing a successful sacrifice is anything but a foregone conclusion, then you add that you’re actually lessening your chances of scoring runs by bunting, and it’s just an overall terrible decision.
Mattingly though, of course, called for the bunt anyway, and it worked out SPLENDIDLY.
Then, IN THE VERY NEXT INNING, the Dodgers were put in the exact same situation after a Bobby Abreu walk and a Dee Gordon bunt single. With Mark Ellis coming up and Matt Kemp on deck, Mattingly elected to bunt with Ellis, effectively setting things up perfectly for the Giants to avoid pitching to Kemp.
Ellis was a fine option to bunt, as he has executed 12 of them in his previous three seasons, but even so, it again lessened the Dodgers chances of scoring runs.
Predictably, after the successful bunt, the Giants walked Kemp to load the bases and brought in Javier Lopez to pitch to Andre Ethier.
On cue, Ethier did that, just like it was out of a script.
It would have been sad if everybody didn’t see it coming, but judging by the reaction on Twitter, we all did see it coming.
The only possible positive thing that could have come out of this is Mattingly learning his lesson and swearing to stop doing this in the future.
“Neither one of those decisions I would look back and change,” Mattingly said after the game.
Welp, alrighty then.
“They have to pick between Matt and Andre, and if I can get Andre up there with the bases loaded, I’ll take it every day. He’s leading the league in RBI,” Mattingly said.
“I’m still giving two guys a chance, but I don’t even need a hit. I just need to get a ball in the air,” Mattingly said. “I have two guys that are basically leading the league in RBI and they have to take their pick.”
“I wouldn’t really change anything. We just have to execute, that’s all,” Mattingly said. “First and second nobody out we have to try to get runners over and get them in scoring position. With Mark [Ellis], I do it all the time.”
Yes, I know you do it all the time.
THAT’S THE PROBLEM