Posted by Steve
Early in the series, the decisive managerial decision was Kirk Gibson allowing Ian Kennedy to face Prince Fielder late in the game. Ron Roenicke topped that one last night.
Randy Wolf was as bad as it gets last night. Even after the five runs in the first inning, he was lucky to labor through the second without allowing anything more. The third inning was more of the same. He struggled to get two outs, allowing runners to reach second and third. Kirk Gibson sensed an opportunity, and with the pitcher up to bat, he pinch hit. Colin Cowgill got a two-RBI single, and the work the Brewers had done to close the deficit was out the window.
It was a great move by Gibson; the type of move managers need to make in the playoffs. Roenicke should have absolutely responded the same way. Wolf’s spot was up third the next inning, so clearly Roenicke was hoping to get Wolf through the third and then pinch hit for him. Leaving the starter in there is a move you make during the regular season when you have to preserve your bullpen.
The Brewers had chipped away to make it a 5-3 game, and if the they could have held off the DBacks’ offense for a bit, it might have ended up a close game. Roenicke needed to realize that was a pivotal moment in the game. He should have brought in Kameron Loe (or any other reliever; Loe was the next one to come in) to face the right-handed Cowgill. Instead, he left Wolf in and the DBacks delivered the crushing blow.
I’m not blaming Roenicke for the loss yesterday; clearly, that one is on Randy Wolf. He just didn’t have anything. Still, Roenicke needs to be more proactive and pull out all the stops tomorrow. As I type this, the Yankees just pulled Ivan Nova after two innings. He had only given up two runs, and both came in the first. They still took him out, because it’s game five, they were down two, and they obviously sensed he wasn’t going to keep them close.
Nothing should be out of the question tomorrow. Gallardo is starting tomorrow, but it will also be five days since Zack Greinke’s last start. Greinke needs to be ready to go for any reason. If Yo gets hit around early, Greinke needs to come in to stop the bleeding. If it’s a close game, say, scoreless in the fifth with two outs and runners on, Roenicke needs to pinch hit for Yo and bring Greinke in.
Tomorrow could quite literally be the last day of the season, so there’s no need to save anybody. The time for lining up a potential NLCS rotation is passed; that went out the window when they lost last night. Worry about the next round once you’re fortunate enough to make it there.
So. Here we go. Of course, they couldn’t make it easy, so now we have to sit through a Game 5. If the goal was the World Series, they weren’t going to get there without any nerves. Put on your lucky socks, underwear, jersey, hat, whatever your good omen may be. Apparently, this is why we torture ourselves by being die-hard fans of a baseball team.
Brewers! Brewers! Keep Turnin’ Up the Heat!