Criticism of mattingly Ignores His Far Worse Decision

After several very bad starts, the empty uniform non-manager don mattingly pulled Kevin Correia from the Dodgers’ starting rotation after he was clobbered by the New York Mets on August 24. That, was a good move. However, it was soon followed by a terrible move, when mattingly chose to use Correia to start the 12th inning of a game on August 29, which at the time was a 2-2 tie against San Diego. A single, a walk, a wild pitch, and eventually another single, and the Padres had a run and they had the game. At that point, Correia had given up 12 runs, ten of them earned, on 17 hits and three walks, over his last 8-2/3 innings pitched.

One should also bare in mind that that relief appearance was Correia’s eighth over the last six seasons, as against 170 starts. But mattingly was not deterred.

When the Dodgers lost Wednesday, again in extra innings, mattingly was rightly criticized for errors he made in the tenth inning. The game was more than the rubber game of a three-game series - it was the rubber game of a three-game series against the team now generally considered the National League's best, the Washington Nationals, and against whom the Dodgers would surely have to defeat in a playoff series if they are to win a league championship and get to the World Series.
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What’s more, their one win in this series was a game pitched by Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers have to demonstrate their ability to beat the Nationals in a game NOT pitched by Kershaw.

In that tenth inning, with the game tied, lumbering 33-year-old catcher A.J. Ellis hit a one-out single, and then went to second on a Dee Gordon hit. So, with one out, Ellis was the winning run on second, with Yasiel Puig coming up. 9.9 times out of ten, the manager would put a speedy runner in at second for the super-slow catcher, who was the potential

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winning run. mattingly chose not to, and when Puig collected a hit to right field, Ellis stopped at third. At that point, with Adrian Gonzalez and then Juan Uribe coming up, mattingly inserted Erisbel Arruebarrena to run for Ellis at third. Gonzales and Uribe each struck out, and the game went to the 14th inning.

mattingly told reporters afterward that he did not want to use a runner for Ellis when he was at second, because he would then be using up two players, one as a pinch runner, and then his last catcher, if the Dodgers did not score and the game went into the 11th inning. He further said that he did run for Ellis when he was on third, because he felt a speedy runner could score could score from third on an out, where Ellis likely could not.

This explanation is crap, but at least it is an explanation. mattingly’s later move in the 14th inning cannot be explained. Who did mattingly choose to bring in to pitch in the 14th inning? Why, Mr. Correia, that’s who. Granted, there was a key error in the inning, by

Justin Turner, but it was Correia who gave up a walk, another wild pitch, and a three-run, game-losing home run.

mattingly could have used Yimi Garcia, who following his call-up pitched two scoreless innings two days earlier, or

Chris Perez, who returned from the disabled list to pitch 2/3 scoreless in that same game. He could even have used Roberto Hernandez who started that same game, but who only pitched 4-1/3 innings. But, there was no excuse and there is no acceptable explanation for the pitiful decision to use Correia in that 14th inning.

What the Dodgers did was demonstrated that with both mattingly and Kershaw in the dugout, they will have a tough time winning any game against Washington.

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