Mike Matheny gets outmanaged as Cards lose Game 1

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The biggest hit in Sunday’s Game 1 came about because the Nationals got the matchup they wanted and the Cardinals didn’t.

Down 2-1 with two on and two out in the top of the eighth, Nationals manager Davey Johnson sent up lefty Chad Tracy to hit in the pitcher’s spot in the order. The Cardinals had their regular eighth-inning guy, righty Mitchell Boggs, in the game at the time, but Mike Matheny chose to counter with left-hander Marc Rzepczynski. Of course, that just led to another move from Davey Johnson; he put in right-hander Tyler Moore to replace Tracy.

Matheny should have known this was coming; Tracy had nine at-bats against lefties all year. It was a no-brainer that Johnson would go get Moore off the bench. And Moore, getting to face the southpaw, came up big, delivering a two-run single that proved to be the difference in the Nationals’ 3-2 win.

It was Matheny’s second of three very questionable decisions in the game. In the sixth, he picked Skip Schumaker over Matt Carpenter to hit for the pitcher with two on and two out against Craig Stammen. Maybe he felt Carpenter could be employed in a bigger situation later, though that chance to break the game open seemed plenty big at the time. Schumaker ended up striking out to end the inning. And Carpenter did get to bat in an important situation in the eighth. He too struck out, thanks to Tyler Clippard getting a strike call on a pitch four or five inches off the plate.

The third decision came before Carpenter hit in the eighth. With just six outs left in a one-run game, Matheny chose to give away one of them to bunt Adron Chambers — who was pinch-running for David Freese — from first to second base. The sac was successful, but the Cards failed to score.

It’d be silly to say Matheny lost this game for the Cardinals; an offense that came up with just three hits all day was the bigger problem. What Matheny didn’t do was put the team in the best position to win.

Mariners, Indians and Rays make a three-way swap

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The Indians, Mariners, and Rays are working toward finalizing a three-team trade. The full details have not been revealed yet, and there are conflicting reports as to who is going where, but we know that Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion are involved.

Initial reports have the Mariners getting Edwin Encarnacion from the Indians in exchange for Carlos Santana, with Cleveland also receiving first baseman Jake Bauers from the Rays. Outfielder/third baseman Yandy Diaz will reportedly head to Tampa Bay along with a player to be named later. There has been a conflict in the past few minutes, however as to where Encarnacion is actually going: Seattle or Tampa Bay. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com says it’s Seattle, Bob Nightengale says it’s Tampa Bay. We’ll know soon enough, I suppose.

Santana played for the Phillies last year and was traded to Seattle just a couple of weeks ago. He’ll never have a chance to wear a Mariners uniform and, instead, will go back to Cleveland, where he played his entire career until 2018. Encarnacion has spent the last two years in Cleveland. Santana is owed $35 million over the next two seasons and has a 2021 buyout. Encarnacion is owed $24 million in 2019 if you include the buyout on his 2020 club option.  If Encarnacion is going to Seattle, you have to figure that the Mariners will flip him in mid-season if possible.