Since we’re in the business of ripping Ron for his screw-ups (and he had a one horrible inning yesterday and we’ll get to that in just a minute), we should praise him when he does the right thing in the vain hope that he may do so again.
On Friday the Brewers dropped a tough one as Shelby Miller shut them down completely. He’s a great young pitcher and that’s going to happen, especially with the Brewer offense in its current state. Maybe Kyle Lohse could have come out for the 8th inning after only 82 pitches, but the Cards had 3 lefties due up and he had given up a HR to Yadi in the 7th. Ron went to Tom Gorzellany who retired Descalso, Jay, and Carpenter in order.
It’s possible that Ron was/is setting Gorzo up as an 8th inning guy, but it looked like a platoon move so we’ll go with it. The move kept the game within reach and the Brewers even threatened just a bit in the 9th, though it was not to be.
On Sunday the Brewers trailed 3-2 in the 8th with the meat of the Cardinal order due up (Holliday, Craig, Molina). If you believe that Jim Henderson is the new “closer” and therefore, the manager’s choice for best pitcher, this was the spot to use him, and indeed that’s just what Ron did. Sure, as Ryan Topp pointed out, he needed the work and was warming up even before the Brewers made it a 3-2 game, but a correct move is a correct move, and the Brewers were rewarded with a 1-2-3 inning, and an eventual, much needed win.
Mitchell Boggs has struggled this season and in the bottom of the 9th the Brewers got right to work hitting him hard, as Gogo led off with a single and scored on an improbable, mind-blowing double from Yuniesky Betancourt (and while were praising people who we usually rip I suppose we should point out that Yuni actually played decent defense in this game).
And here’s where it all went to shit. Logan Schafer was called upon to bunt Yuni to 3rd. He ended up reaching as Yadi Molina made an uncharacteristic error trying to gun down Yuni at 3rd, and everyone reached. (Bunt 1)
Nori Aoki was then called upon to safety squeeze. (Bunt 2) This was a ridiculous call. Set aside for a minute that Nori is usually a very good bunter. There are no outs, and your two hottest hitters are on deck. You have excellent potential for a big inning, you’re into a pretty sad Cardinal bullpen, and perhaps most importantly, Nori also has great bat control. He’s struck out 3 times in 53 PAs this season. And contact probably scores the run even if he grounds into a double play.
As you all know, Nori popped out to Yadi.
After that we had the dreaded contact play which created a bunch of arguments on twitter. It resulted, as it so often seems to, in Yuni being gunned down at home. Here’s why I hate the contact play:
1. It can hang the runner completely out to dry, and runners on 3rd are valuable.
2. It doesn’t cost you THAT much time to wait and see where the ball is hit. You might score anyway. Drawn-in infields lead to more hits, after all.
Now, there are some arguments in favor:
1. In this scenario there was a man on first and 1 out. This may have prevented a double play, though I find that argument less than compelling as, if they can turn the DP, they should.
2. If the guy gets gunned down at home you still have a runner on 2nd with 2 outs, and having a runner on 3rd v. 2nd with two outs isn’t THAT huge a difference.
So there you go. The bunting was inexcusable no matter how you slice it. Fortunately the Brewers were able to pull this one out. I’ll even go so far as to praise Ron’s thinking on the pitching in the bottom of the 10th. Yes, I wanted Kintzler to have the whole inning, and yes Mike Gonzalez is terrifying, but at least Ron played platoon matchups instead of inning roles, and Kintzler didn’t help himself by walking the lead-off man.
So while we rip Ron a great deal we’re not above pointing out his successes. I hope he keeps it up. It’s entirely possible that the correct moves he made above were entirely by accident, but even if this was the case, it was downright enjoyable to have the manager do exactly what I was thinking for once.