"Just one more drink--then I'll drive home."OK, before we get to the whole issue of how Ian Desmond, who never played the outfield at any professional level ever, had no business being in right field in the first place, let's go to the top of the seventh.
"I'm pretty sure it's safe this time of the month."
"Afghanistan is no match for a superpower."
"I didn't want to take Pete Orr's bat out of the lineup."
The Scats were down 1-0. Tim Redding--he of the 5.52 ERA at the start of the day--had allowed just two hits over six. (Both pitchers benefited greatly from Mark Wegner's enormous "let's get this over with" strike zone.) But it was Redding's third time through the order. He had walked the completely punchless John Lannan the prior inning. And due up were Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and, if anyone got on, Josh Willingham. This was the inning to take the lead and win the game.
Guzman led off with a swinging bunt for an infield hit. Zimmerman came to the plate, carrying with him 30 dingers, 96 RBI, and a .374 wOBA.
And Fizzleman called a hit-and-run. Sigh. He basically sacrifices his best hitter and opens first base with Dunn coming up. Just a terrible, terrible decision. Redding threw a slider way down out of the zone, and Zimm did well just to put a bat on this ball:
It would have been a double-play if Redding hadn't bobbled it, and Zimmerman let Riggleman know about it when he got to the dugout. Ever remember Zimmerman arguing with a manager, even a little? Me neither.
After a wild pitch, Dunn got a base hit to drive in Guzman (who would have scored even without sacrificing Zimmerman). Then, Willingham, really the last good hitter left in the line-up, came to the plate, and Riggleman called a hit-and-run again! With Adam Dunn running!! Can you imagine what kind of ball Willingham would have to hit to score Dunn from first?
Willingham thankfully fouled it off. Riggleman sent Dunn again on what turned out to be ball four, but with the weak bottom of the Nationals order coming up the threat was pretty much over. Orr struck out on three pitches, and Desmond popped out to end the inning.
So that brings us to the bottom of the inning. Late and close, it was way past time to end the little Ian Desmond outfield experiment and get a real defense out there. Elijah Dukes, after all, was on the bench, as were Justin Maxwell, Jorge Padilla, and Mike Morse. There were plenty of options.
Instead, Fizzleman said, "I hesitated to take the left-handed bat out of the lineup, Orr, if we were still tied."
Sometimes I just feel silly presenting statistical evidence to make a point. Is it really necessary to prove that Pete Orr's isn't a very good hitter?
Look, I'm all for optimizing the hitter/pitcher match-ups, but here are Orr's career numbers against right-handed pitching: .271 / .295 / .354. Here are Dukes's career numbers against righties: .247 / .353 / .429. Heck, even right-handed Mike Morse (.274 / .341 / .347) is better against right-handed pitching than Orr.
Yeah, I know, the handful of you still paying attention will say Orr has 15 hits in 52 at bats since getting called up. Four of those hits even went for extra bases. But c'mon. This guy is a 30-year-old with 452 career at bats. He is who he is. He hit .245 / .305 / .367 in AAA this year. He wasn't even guaranteed to get another at bat in the game with only two innings to go anyway.
By all accounts, Pete Orr is a nice guy, and I don't have any problem with him making a living in AAA for some team that thinks it might need him as a spare part some time. But if you ever find yourself managing a Major League Baseball team, and you're considering the downside of taking Orr's bat out of the line-up, please, give yourself a hard slap in the face.
You know the rest. Wright hit a screaming liner right at Desmond. He took one step in, and that was that. Francoeur doubled home Wright, and later in the inning Francoeur scored on what should have been the third out of the inning. The Mets led 3-1 before Lannan could get the fifth out of the inning.
All of this is on top of the fundamental blunder, which was playing Desmond in right field in the first place? CitiField is a notoriously difficult right field, and the sun was tough for even experienced outfielders. Is this any way to help transition a young player to the big leagues? Really, this is setting him up for failure.
And just for the sake of thoroughness, in the eighth with one out Fizzleman pinch-ran for Josh Bard with Jorge Padilla. Bard was not the tying run, and they were going to need a hit to score him anyway. The upside of the situation just didn't justify burning one of his only two catchers and putting the team one hammy away from seeing Pete Orr catch.
It was not a good day for the Nationals' manager.