There are all kinds of ideas that, when looked at up close in objective terms, seem to make a lot of sense. Many of these ideas, however, don’t look so good from 10,000 feet. And certainly don’t look good in hindsight.
And yes, this is hindsight. But there is no escaping the fact that, ultimately, Bruce Bochy decided, with two out in the 10th inning last night, to intentionally walk Adam Jones to get to one of the most fearsome hitters in baseball this season. Chris Davis made him pay for that decision.
Bochy began the 10th with lefty Javier Lopez on the hill. Which made sense because because two of the first three Orioles hitters — Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis — are left-handed. Lopez retired both of them. Manny Machado is not left-handed, however, and he doubled in between those outs. That brought Adam Jones — a righty — to the plate with two outs.
Bochy could have had Lopez try to retire Jones, platoon splits be damned. Or he could ave called in Santiago Casilla or Sergio Romo to face Jones. He chose not to do that. Instead he walked Jones to go lefty-on-lefty, Lopez vs. Davis. All Davis did was double to deep center, scoring both Machado and Jones and putting his Giants in a hole out of which they couldn’t climb. It was essentially the ballgame.
Playing the percentages. Playing the platoon splits. That makes sense. Putting a much worse hitter than Chris Davis on base and giving Davis a chance to bat? That really doesn’t. And Bruce Bochy learned that the hard way last night.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.