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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 06/12/2009

Hinch manages D'Backs to loss

Going by the Book guarantees nothing.

But it would be nice if your manager at least acted like he was aware when he was taking huge statisical gamble.

For example, in Tuesday’s Diamondbacks-Dodgers game, Arizona manager A.J. Hinch’s squad was in a bind.

Behind a strong performance from Dan Haren, the Diamondbacks took a 5-1 lead into the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. It was golden opportunity to pick up a game against the frontrunning Dodgers, who have been especially tough at home.

It was also good chance for Arizona backers to pick up a decent payday from the underdog Diamondbacks.

Hinch, in his first year as a manager, made sure that didn’t happen.

He elected to turn the game over to his bullpen in the eighth inning. Diamondback relievers have the third highest ERA in the National League.

Tony Pena, who threw 28 pitches in a trying outing the day before, relieved Haren. He surrendered a run and loaded the bases with two outs.

With left-handed James Loney coming to the plate, Hinch went by the Book. He replaced the right-handed Pena for rookie lefty Dan Schlereth to face Loney, who is hitting 20 points less against left-handers.

It backfired. Loney banged a bases-clearing double, tying the score 5-all.

Now, Hinch was faced with another decision. With Loney on second representing the go-ahead run, the right-handed Casey Blake was up. Blake is hitting .386 against left-handers. On deck was left-handed Andre Ethier, who is hitting just .207 against left-handers.

The Books says Hinch should either relieve Schlereth with a right-hander to face Blake or walk Blake and pitch to Etheir.

Instead, Hinch chose to leave in his Schlereth to face Blake. There’s certainly nothing in the Book suggesting that strategy. Statistically, it was an awful move and a huge gamble.

Blake promptly singled to center, scoring Loney to give the Dodgers a 6-5 lead. To rub it in, Schlereth got Ethier to pop out weakly to short. But the damage was done.

The Diamondbacks went down in order in the ninth and suffered a disappointing loss.

So what was Hinch thinking while making the dumb … err, unconventional … move?

He certainly didn’t take responsibility for it by admitting he took a risk. Instead, he pointed the blame for the loss at his team’s wasted offensive opportunities.

He also talked with the Arizona Republic about the confidence Schlereth would have gained if he would have got the final out to perserve the tie.

Really? According to Hinch’s reasoning, a rookie pitcher is going to regain all the confidence he lost after coughing up a three run lead by getting one out.

Why are you risking a critical division game just to increase a middle reliever’s confidence anyway?

It was a silly move, a ridiculous excuse and a bad beat for anyone who had the Diamondbacks.

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