Blake Snell was, as they say in baseball, shoving. He was dominating the Dodgers in a game his Rays needed to win to stay alive in the World Series.
Then he screwed up: He gave up a hit. And just like that, Snell was out of the game. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash removed the none-too-happy left-hander after 5 1/3 shutout innings and 73 pitches in an elimination game. Cash trusted his vaunted bullpen the get the final 11 outs.
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Problem is, that bullpen got no outs before the Rays had lost up the lead and put themselves nine outs away from going home without a title.
Cash called on Nick Anderson, one of his best relievers in the regular season, to face the top of the Dodgers’ order: Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner. Anderson entered the game with a 5.02 postseason ERA. But LA did just enough to make Cash look like an idiot.
Betts started by lacing a double down the left-field line, sending Austin Barnes — who knocked out Snell with that aforementioned hit — to third. With Seager up, Anderson threw a wild pitch to allow Barnes to score the tying run. Then he got Seager to chop a ball to first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who threw late to the plate as a flying Betts slid across with the go-ahead run.
Tampa Bay limited the damage to just those two runs, but Twitter was left to wonder why Snell couldn’t be trusted just this once to face LA’s lineup a third time. (UPDATE: Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Cash told reporters after the Rays’ eventual 3-1 loss that Snell was not going to face Betts or Seager again, regardless of how lights-out he was.)
You pull Snell with the way he was pitching, you get what you get…the new way of managing a baseball game is often loathsome. These managers would have pulled Gibson and Koufax.
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) October 28, 2020
As Tom Verducci just noted on the broadcast, Mookie Betts slugged just .218 against lefties this year, worst in the majors. Cash pulled Snell to bring in a righty to face Betts. He doubled. https://t.co/nhRrh9dXRa
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) October 28, 2020
Can’t even really blame “analytics” for pulling Snell. Mookie was awful against lefties this year. It was just a dumbass decision. pic.twitter.com/ZaotTxybI4
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 28, 2020