Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joe Maddon's Game 2 Decision Making

While staying up until 1:30 A.M. on the east coast, Rays fans were well rewarded for watching the game well past their bedtimes of 8:00 and witnessed what great postseason moments are made of.

In an epic 5 and a half hour game, the Rays and Red Sox matched great bullpen performances after their starters let them down. After the offenses cooled, Joe Maddon's bullpen pitched great, led by Dan Wheeler. Wheeler, the Rays closer, threw 3.1 innings and 48 pitches in his effort and kept the Red Sox lineup quiet in extra innings. I will give credit to Maddon for being so agressive with his best relief option to put him out for a fourth inning of work. Of course, there is reason to question using his closer for 48 pitches in Game 2, but it really was a must win situation. Time will tell if Wheeler remains effective with the coming games at Fenway, but I have to say that I like the move for now.

The other Maddon move that I wish to discuss was in the bottom of the 11th when he sent Fernando Perez to steal 3rd base with Jason Bartlett hitting. Bartlett grounded to third, and without the run on, Youkilis had a sure thing double play, which would have left a runner on second and two down and the inning would have been over with Upton's flyout. Instead, the Maddon led Rays were agressive and it eventually paid off, evening the series at 1-1. Looking at Jon Lester, who has yet to give up an earned run in two postseason starts, the Rays needed Game 2 and got it thanks largely to the management of Joe Maddon.

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