Brewers manager Ned Yost had his club in auto-pilot over the course of a nine-game homestand. It's hard to screw things up when your team goes 8-1 and outscores three good opponents by a total of 27 runs.
However, when a six-game road trip began in Denver Friday night, Yost was back to his old tricks. In a close game, he infuriated Brewer fans by again botching the management of his bullpen. In doing so, he again screwed his ace, Ben Sheets, out of a win.
Carlos Villanueva pitched the seventh inning, striking out two hitters in a 1-2-3 inning. He threw a grand total of ten pitches, as his renaissance continues in the bullpen. With the score still 4-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, it seemed like a no-brainer to keep Villanueva in the game.
Leave it to the manager with no brains to not figure that out. Instead of leaving the hot, fresh pitcher in the game, he brought Guillermo Mota out. The result? Disaster. A five-run inning that propelled Colorado to a 6-4 win.
"Mota's been our eighth-inning pitcher the majority of the year," said Yost. "We went to our eighth-inning pitcher."
So, instead of extending their winning streak to seven games and building on the momentum of an 8-1 home stand, the Brewers begin their six-game road trip with one of the most brutal losses of the year. And one that probably wouldn't have happened had Yost stuck with Villanueva, who has pitched seven consecutive scoreless innings since being shifted from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
As it turned out, not scoring a runner from third base with no outs in the seventh inning made all the difference. After J.J. Hardy drew a walk off Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Kendall greeted reliever Matt Herges with a triple into the right-field corner that gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.... Had the Brewers gotten Kendall home, Yost said he would have stuck with Villanueva another inning. Why?
"It's not a save situation," Yost explained.
Again, the formula. Villanueva would have been entrusted to protect a four-run lead but Mota got the call with a three-run margin.
"I just sat there, expecting to go back out," said Villanueva. "When the inning was over, they told me to shut it down."
Just remember, the formula only matters to Ned when he says it matters. Otherwise, he plays a strange mishmash of hunches and biases.Honestly, there probably isn't a more dangerous managerial combination in baseball than an idiot paired with "the book". After all, only an idiot would mess up the use of "the book", managing to make even the simplest situation into a horrific adventure.
Perhaps Brewer fans should just consider themselves lucky that they didn't manage to blow either of the nine-run leads they had on the homestand.
Remember, I told you two years ago this guy was an idiot. You can't blame it on me.