Miami was victorious Thursday night in the opening game of a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. After falling behind by a 3-0 defecit, the Fish fought back, eventually earning the tying run in the 8th inning. The night was capped with a Marcell Ozuna walk-off double following a Garrett Jones walk and Jeff Mathis single in the 10th inning.
The 5-4 victory is Miami’s 5th victory in their last 7 games and moves them within 1 game of .500. They are also only 1 game behind the suddenly mortal Atlanta Braves, and 4 games outside of a Wild Card spot.
For all of the joy and excitement of a Marlins victory, it is easy to forget that the Marlins best chance for victory was actually the inning before but was squandered away due to a questionable decision by manager Mike Redmond.
The 9th inning kicked off with a prototypical Christian Yelich at-bat. Yelich watched the first 4 pitches, 2 for strikes, 2 for balls, before hitting a soft line drive into center field to start a rally. With the leadoff man on first and nobody out, Mike Redmond continued his season-long head scratching decisions by having Donovan Solano lay down a sacrifice bunt to move Yelich to 2nd base.
Now on the surface, this seems like a positive idea. Move a runner into scoring position with less than 2 outs for your best hitter (Giancarlo Stanton) to hopefully knock him in, but it doesn’t work that way. Certainly by now, Red knows what is going to happen next. Stanton is intentionally walked and Casey McGehee has to hit with runners on first and second and a potential double play available to end the inning, and that is exactly what happened. Casey, hit a slow roller to the 2nd baseman (for the third time that night!) and the 4-6-3 double play was served up perfectly.
More people would certainly be upset about this outcome had the Marlins not won the game an inning later, but I try not to second guess managers only after losses. I often think about the play in terms of what the other manager is hoping will happen in any given situation. When Yelich gets on to start the inning, if you gave Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson a choice with the next hitter, I believe he would tell you that he is hoping that Red bunts him. That allows him to avoid the best hitter on the Marlins (who went 3-4 on the night). In the bottom of the 9th inning of a tied game, Stanton’s run doesn’t matter, so getting him on base is an irrelevant point.
Maybe he was concerned about Solano hitting into a double play, and I can understand that, but let’s look at the situation. Solano has more speed, is relatively decent at hitting the ball behind the runner, and also has more space to work with considering the first baseman has to hold Yelich on first. Even if Solano hits into a double play, you still have the best power hitter in the game with the chance to tie it up on one swing.
Meanwhile McGehee is much slower, and has ground into the most double plays in the National League! You tell me which has a better chance of happening?
Thankfully the Marlins won in spite of Redmond’s ineptitude. I am still holding out hope that someone will sit him down and tell him that he doesn’t have to manage the same way that people have in baseball for the last 40 years. It’s ok to look at advanced stats, they just might be what this team needs.