Sunday, October 06, 2013

Back From Our Mourning Period

As we said, it's only one game. Not a big deal. By splitting the first two games in Atlanta, we still own home field advantage in what has become a best-of-three series.

But in the wake of the Game 2 loss, the dailies on Don Mattingly and his seventh-inning decision making were just not good. This criticism is probably deserved. But if nothing else, it's pretty uniform. First, MSTI:

Jose Constanza came on to hit for the pitcher. He’s a lefty, and he is terrible, so Don Mattingly brings in lefty Paco Rodriguez. Fine. Fredi Gonzalez counters by bringing in righty Reed Johnson. Rodriguez, it should be noted, doesn’t really have platoon splits. I mean, he does in the sense that he’s death on lefties, but over his career he’s .196/.292/.337 against righties, so it’s not like he’s a typical LOOGY, and Johnson is old and busted.

And Mattingly sends out the intentional walk sign. With Jason Heyward on deck… who is only one of the most talented young hitters in baseball. Now I get it, Heyward is less effective against lefties than he is on righties, but at a certain point common sense overwhelms the book. Reed Johnson with two on, or Jason Heyward with the bases loaded. This isn’t even a conversation. It shouldn’t be. Why are we even having to talk about this?

But talk about this we are, including local LAT hack Bill Plaschke--which means it must be pretty obvious:

Don Mattingly became Donnie Postseason Baseball on Friday, and it wasn't pretty.

"Yeah, you always look back at everything, you could have did this, you could have did that," said Mattingly with pained frankness. "So I think you look at it and you look at this honestly and see what you think."

Honestly, the overwhelming thought is that Mattingly blew it during his Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the now-knotted National League division series at Turner Field.

The thought is that Mattingly's decision in the seventh inning to walk Reed Johnson and pitch to Jason Heyward — a strange move that was first-guessed by many — was the main reason the Dodgers lost a game they should have won.

Heyward's two-run single up the middle against Paco Rodriguez gave the Braves a 4-1 lead that rendered moot a later two-run homer by Hanley Ramirez and forced a futile comeback attempt against nearly untouchable Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel. [...]

Mattingly is a beloved figure in the clubhouse, yet his late-game strategy is often questioned, and he was nearly fired earlier this season when the team was struggling. He is still working without a guaranteed deal for next year and, while the Dodgers hold an option, it is widely believed the team needs to play well in the postseason — and he needs to manage well under the October microscope — to ensure that option is picked up.

During an intense seventh inning Friday, Mattingly did not leave a good first postseason impression.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne echoed the criticism:

The team charter didn't get back to Los Angeles until about 2 a.m. local time Saturday, and Mattingly and the Dodgers were required to be back at the stadium by midafternoon.

But in what little time he did have to reflect, he said he wouldn't have done anything differently.

"I think the situation in the game last night, no matter which way I go, it could be questioned," Mattingly said of his decision to lift right-hander Chris Withrow in the seventh inning for left-hander Paco Rodriguez, who surrendered what proved to be a game-winning two-run single to the left-handed hitting Jason Heyward. "If I leave Withrow in to pitch and give up a hit there, I'm going to question myself and I'm going to be like why didn't I use Paco? So it's one of those things that if move works, if the match-up works, it's good. If it doesn't, it's bad. So there is really nothing other than it not going the way I want it, that I would change."

Okay, so we've had another day to think about this move, Donnie. (I, for one, think other Dodgers might at least share some of the blame.) Let's get your team fired up today to get out there and get back on course tonight.


BJ Killeen said...

This is a win win situation. If we win we are champs, if we lose, Donnie goes.