In most instances, managers are exactly correct to play the percentages. What is the point of having information at your fingertips if you aren’t going to use it?
But sometimes it comes back to get you.
With lefty Brian Fuentes warming up to start the eighth inning, Bobby Valentine sent Darnell McDonald up to pinch hit for Ryan Sweeney.
Sweeney is a career .230/.301/.287 hitter against lefties. He is 1 for 9 this season. McDonald is on the roster to take swings against lefties. With his team down 5-1 at the time and down to six outs, Valentine was making the right move.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin countered that move by calling in righthander Ryan Cook. Valentine then pinch hit lefty hitting Lars Anderson.
That was probably one move too many. McDonald is 3 for 19 against righties this season. But Anderson was 8 for 46 in his career against anybody. He struck out.
The real problem came in the ninth inning.
With two runs in, two on and one out, Anderson’s spot in the order came up against Oakland lefty Jordan Norberto. Here were the roster choices Valentine had:
1. Kevin Youkilis, on the roster but unable to play because of a back injury.
2. Kelly Shoppach, the backup catcher. No manager likes using his backup catcher.
3. Jose Iglesias, who was hitting .200/.274/.212 at Pawtucket.
Youkilis stood there holding a bat pretending he could pinch hit. But Melvin stayed with Norberto and he struck out Anderson on four pitches.
I think I would have gone with Shoppach, who hits lefties fairly well. But it sure would have been nice to have McDonald available.
Dustin Pedroia then grounded into a force to end the game.
Valentine did nothing wrong. But sometimes doing the right thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.