Fourth inning of NLCS Game 2 full of questionable managerial decisions

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The Cardinals added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning against Giants starter Jake Peavy, but that wasn’t the most interesting part of the frame. Matt Adams led off with a walk and Jhonny Peralta followed up with a single, which set the strategy in motion.

Decision 1: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has Yadier Molina drop down a sacrifice bunt.

According to Baseball Prospectus, one’s run expectancy is lowered slightly going from runners on first and second with no outs to runners on second and third with one out. It’s defensible if you have the pitcher batting or an otherwise very weak hitter in front of a much better hitter. In this case, it’s Yadier Molina batting sixth in front of Kolten Wong.

Decision 2: Giants manager Bruce Bochy has starter Jake Peavy intentionally walk Wong to face right-handed hitter Randal Grichuk.

Ostensibly, Bochy called for the intentional walk to set up a force at every base as well as several inning-ending double play opportunities. Furthermore, Peavy has the platoon advantage against the same-handed Grichuk. On the other hand, putting a runner on base for free sets up the possibility of an irredeemably big inning. Fortunately for the Giants, Grichuk only singled to push across one run.

Decision 3: Matheny allowed starter Lance Lynn to hit for himself with runners on second and third with one out.

Yes, Lynn has had a fantastic season. Yes, Lynn was only at 62 pitches through four innings. But sending up a pinch-hitter (perhaps left-handed-hitting top prospect Oscar Taveras) opens up the possibility for the Cardinals to break the game open. Lynn, to his credit, hit a fly ball to right field, but it wasn’t deep enough to bring another run home.

Decision 4: Bochy allowed Jake Peavy to pitch to Matt Carpenter with runners on second and third and two outs with left-handed reliever Javier Lopez warming up in the bullpen.

Both teams have a day off on Monday, so reaching into the bullpen a little early isn’t as detrimental as it might have been in Game 1. Still, Bochy let the struggling Peavy pitch to the left-handed-hitting Carpenter — who slugged a home run against him in the previous inning — in a key moment in the game. Peavy was at 73 pitches and was laboring, and he wouldn’t have the platoon advantage against Carpenter. Fortunately for the Giants, Carpenter flied out to center field to end the game.

It will be interesting to see if these decisions wind up having an effect later on in the game. We’re now in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Cardinals ahead 2-1.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.