Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hang this loss on Manuel? He didn't have much of a choice

So why did Jerry Manuel have Pedro Feliciano pitch to Albert Pujols in the 13th inning with runners on the corners and two outs?

Did he have a choice?

Yes, it's Pujols, Mr. MVP. But the guy on deck, Matt Holliday, is pretty good, too, and already had a homer and three RBI in the game. Plus, walking Pujols to load the bases means a single by Holliday scores two runs, not one, and you already had a force at second. Both players are right handed, and after Feliciano were two more lefties, Valdes and Ollie.

Having Feliciano pitching to either Pujols or Holliday is a tough task either way, but remember there were two outs and Pujols could barely run to first base or jog out to his position. The guy was hurting. He would have been removed from the game had LaRussa had other options available to him.

So do you load the bases for a healthy Holliday, or pitch to a hurting Pujols hoping to get one more out?

Again, did Manuel have a choice?

His critics and the media will surely jump all over him, but the reality is the outcome was mostly decided by the six runs Johan Santana gave up in the first. Credit Santana for gutting out another 4 2/3 innings and stopping the bleeding, credit the bullpen for keeping the Cards scoreless til Pujols's single in the 13th, and credit the Mets for coming back, scoring four in the eighth, two on a pinch hit single by Ike Davis and two more on a homer by Angel Pagan.

But you can't credit them with a win. Just another tough loss, another one-run loss, another loss on a night when the Braves and Phillies won.

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