Game 34: Mets 3 Pirates 2

Let's start here: 

In the early moments of Little Big League, young Billy Heywood is considering naming himself manager of the Twins and he gets grilled by the team's pitching coach about what to do in various baseball situations. At one point, the pitching coach asks Billy what to do late in a close game with a runner on first base for a hitter in the middle of the lineup. He thinks that the right answer is to bunt the runner over, but Billy points out that bunting the runner over will allow the other team to use intentional walks and pitching changes to take the bats out of the rest of the middle of his lineup, rendering the runner on second base moot. Billy Heywood is a fictional 12-year old in a movie from 1994. 

Tonight in the seventh inning, Jose Tabata lead off with a pinch-hit single. Starling Marte bunted Tabata over to second. Terry Collins brought in a lefty to face Travis Snider, so Snider got swapped out for Gaby Sanchez. Sanchez flew out, and Andrew McCutchen was intentionally walked. That left Garrett Jones to face the lefty, and he struck out to end the inning. That bunt after the leadoff single effectively took the bat away from the first four hitters in his lineup. It had the added effect of bringing Jordy Mercer to the plate in the ninth inning with the go-ahead run on base instead of Travis Snider. It happened so predictably that it was beyond maddening. 

That was followed with Not A LOOGY For Some Reason Tony Watson brought on to pitch the seventh inning of a 1-1 game with the three rigthies due up. He gave up a single to Andrew Brown, who scored on pinch hitter Ike Davis's double. 

I'm mentioning this because I'm sure that the only managerial decision that anyone will be talking about after this game is Hurdle using Melancon and Grilli in the eighth and ninth innings of a tie game ont he road and that not paying off after Grilli gave up an "infield single" on a groundball to Brandon Inge — who was somehow still at second base in the ninth inning of a tie game — that eventually resulted in the Mets scoring the winning run. Hurdle was adamant earlier this year about not using Melancon or Grilli in tie games, so he'll likely use this game as more evidence to support that method. Frankly, I think that using Grilli at that spot in the ninth inning was debateable, but only because Melancon cruised through the eighth on 12 pitches and he hardly ever throws any pitches and it was the bottom of the Mets' order that was up in the ninth. Really, though, the point is that the game was full of questionable managing and using Grilli and Melancon accounted for exactly none of it. 

I feel like whenever I point out bad managing in a loss, I also have to point out that the Pirate players played badly. The Pirates loaded the bases in the sixth inning with no outs, and managed a sac fly, a pop-out, and a groundout. There was the aforementioned bad defense by Inge in the ninth. There was also a pretty incredible play by Mets' centerfielder Juan Lagares on what looked like a sure-fire RBI double that was just CRUSHED off of Andrew McCutchen's bat in the top of the ninth. So yes: the Pirates had plenty of chances to win the game regardless of any decisions that were or were not made by the manager. And yes, I'm still angry about the seventh inning and I'm still mad that all anyone is going to talk about is how Grilli should be used.

So it goes. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.