Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Giving up?

Chris Narveson and Brett Myers were locked in a pitcher’s duel in the opening game of the three-game Brewers-Astros series. After giving up a run in the first inning, Narveson settled down and held the Astros scoreless through six innings. Myers lone miscue was a lead-off home run by Corey Hart in the fourth inning. With the game tied 1-1, Milwaukee pinch hit for Narveson in the top of the seventh inning. The Brewers brought in rookie Brandon Kintzler in relief of Narveson. It was Kintzler’s second appearance since being called up on September 7. He had given up one hit in 1.1 innings to the Cubs on Friday.

Kintzler gave up a lead-off single to Geoff Blum, who was sacrificed to second. He then walked Jeff Keppinger before striking out Hunter Pence. With two on and two out, Kintzler gave up back-to-back singles to make it a 3-1 game, and, then after an intentional walk, gave up an unintentional walk, to give the Astros a 4-1 lead. At this point, Macha brought in Todd Coffey, who got the third out of the inning.
Milwaukee would get one run back in the top of the eighth and a lead-off pinch-hit double from Lorenzo Cain in the ninth. But, being down two, the Brewers did not sacrifice Cain to third. Instead, the Brewers hit three fly balls to end the game.

If Milwaukee was in a pennant race, Kintzler doesn’t pitch in that spot. The only race the Brewers are in, however, is for third place in the Central, so this is a good pressure situation in which to give Kintzler experience. Kintzler got into a little bit of trouble but there was no reason to take him out after striking out Pence. He had a realistic shot at getting out of the inning. But he didn’t. He went on to give up back-to-back singles. Yet, Kintzler was left in—and it wasn’t because there was a lack of available arms in the bullpen. Kintzler faced Wallace, who he intentionally walked, and then Manzella.

Macha left Kintzler in too long. Coffey (or Jeffress or Rogers or Villenueva) should have faced Manzella. I don’t know if Macha honestly believed that Kintzler would get out of it or if he wanted to see if he could. Maybe he thought that we were already down 3-1 so ‘what the hell?’ It felt a lot like giving up to me. Obviously, the Astros may have played things differently if they would have scored two that inning, instead of three, so I know that this is complete speculation—but the Brewers could have been down 3-2 with a lead-off runner on second in the ninth.

I haven’t always agreed with Macha’s pitching decisions, but this one seems especially egregious to me. 

Astros 4, Brewers 2
Game played 9-13-10

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