I want to preface by saying that I was not disappointed to see the Brewers go down in extra innings to the Reds. What disappointed me was the way it happened. With the Brewers in the road in Cincy, they have the opportunity to save their “closer” for that big situation that warrants a save. I normally have no issue with this, but last night the most critical situation in the game took place with Francisco Cordero sitting in the bullpen.
Ned Yost brought in Grant Balfour to face the Reds in the bottom of 12th inning, which was fine. Balfour began the inning with a walk to Jeff Conine and a four pitch walk to Pedro Lopez. At that point, it was clear that Balfour was not the guy to have out there. Ned Yost should have called the pen after the leadoff walk and had Cordero stir and begin to throw. After seeing a four pitch walk, it’s time to walk out to the mound real slowly to talk to Balfour and stall for time.
David Ross comes to the plate and hits a ball to Balfour who makes a bonehead play to third to try and get the lead runner. He was called safe and the bases are now loaded with a guy who didn’t appear to have anything good working for him on the mound. No move for the pen, and Javier Valentin singles on the first pitch to win the game for the Reds.
I’m not saying that the move to Cordero should have come to start the inning. My frustration is with managers that seem to think a closer, which is the dumbest term every invented, should only pitch the last three outs of the game when their team is winning by one, two, or three runs. If the biggest situation of the game is bases loaded and one out in the 7th inning, why not use your best guy in that situation? Protecting that inning is just as important as protecting the last inning. They all count the same.