Very tough loss for the Jays yesterday. After being completely befuddled for most of the game, the bats woke up in the ninth to plate three runs and tie the game at four – only to instantly fall 5-4 in the bottom half.
There are two schools of thought on a loss like that. One sees it as harder to swallow because the Jays came from the dead to get everybody excited only to rip out our hearts. The other sees it as easier to swallow because, although they did lose, they at least showed some heart and some fight. My opinion? I don’t f-ing care. They lost. Bottom line.
But something did happen to me after yesterday’s loss – I started thinking. Then, as I am known to do, I started overthinking and the next thing I knew I was blaming Cito for the loss. After taking a step back to see the game from a bigger picture I stopped blaming him, but it goes to show just how easy it is to second guess a manager, or a coach, in any sport.
Before I take you on my guide to overthinking from yesterday, know this: I like Cito. I think he has done a great job this year. True he has made some poor decisions, but he is managing within the team. Many don’t like the fact that Snider sits a few times a week and Encarnacion plays. Neither do I. But I understand the bigger picture – the Jays have too many major league players for starting spots. Somebody has to go. That somebody may likely be Encarnacion, but only if he plays and produces enough to make himself attractive to another team. He doesn’t do that from the bench.
But I digress.
Back to yesterday.
Ninth inning. Jays down by three, but back-to-back walks to Overbay and Encarnacion have loaded the bases with one out for Arencibia. Cito pulls EE from the game and brings in Wise to pinch-run. After J.P. singles, he is lifted for Snider as a pinch-runner. At the time these moves make sense. Get the added speed on the basepaths to tie the game.
But now look at the bottom of the ninth. Bautista, the AL leader in outfield assists moves in to play third. Wise, with a much weaker arm, takes over RF. Molina moves behind the plate. How does the game end? A Molina passed ball then a single to RF. I can’t say for sure, but if Bautista was throwing that ball instead of Wise, Tolleson may, may, be out at the plate.
So what would the classic overthinker, the armchair manager have done differently? He would have either brought in Johnny Mac to pinch-run for Arencibia instead of Snider, or allowed J.P. to run for himself.
1) Johnny is just as quick, or maybe even quicker, than Snider and could easily score from first on an extra base hit. He is also a natural replacement at third for EE, meaning Bautista and his cannon of an arm stays put in RF, and Wise can go to LF for Lewis. Outfield defense is much stronger.
2) Since J.P. represented the go-ahead run, he wasn’t as important as Wise. I know when on the road you are supposed to play for the lead not the tie, but when you take into consideration the fact that Molina is a back-up catcher who played back-to-back night games (and didn’t look sharp behind the plate for Morrow on Tuesday), perhaps leaving Arencibia in the game would have been better for defensive purposes. Then Johnny could have been brought in as a straight defensive replacement. Again – J-Bau remains in the field.
But that’s why hindsight is 20/20, and why the overthinker is writing a blog while the manager is in the dugout.
And that’s also why I will never second guess Cito again. Promise.