It isn’t all hindsight.
Before Cliff Lee gave up that home run to Edgar Renteria last night there were multiple people on my Twitter feed — lots of beat writers and bloggers and everyone — thinking that with first base open and the punchless Aaron Rowand on deck, Lee should have pitched around Renteria or even straight walked him. He didn’t do that, obviously, and Renteria went yard. Buster Olney has a great account of the pitch — including comment from Bengie Molina and Lee — over at ESPN today. The upshot: Molina wanted it out of the zone, Lee says he doesn’t play like that when it’s 3-0, but both admitted that the cutter Renteria deposited in the seats wasn’t the sharpest pitch he’s ever thrown.
My view before the homer? Lee should have pitched to Renteria. I guess it was the wrong view, ultimately, but that’s how I thought about it at the time. If I was Ron Washington, Bengie Molina or Cliff Lee my vote would have been to go after Renteria. Yes, he’s been hot, but he’s still Edgar Renteria. And the guy pitching is still Cliff Lee, and there aren’t many better than Cliff Lee. I don’t like intentionally walking hitters that, generally speaking, don’t pose a serious threat (and in my mind that includes all but the really elite hitters). I certainly don’t like loading the bases.
Like I said: that was ultimately the wrong call. But I’m not gonna fault Lee, Molina or Washington for making it. Lee threw a bad pitch. Renteria did with bad pitches what almost all major leaguers — maybe even Aaron Roward — can do with bad pitches. It happens.