Davey Johnson is Smarter than Me
There was a moment in last night's 6-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants when I thought the game was over. With two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning after Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa had gone back to back with one out in the inning to pull the Nationals within two the pitchers spot came up, and Davey Johnson pinch hit Mark DeRosa. At first he sent Roger Bernadina out to face the right hander and recent thrower of a perfect game, Matt Cain, but then Bochy switched him out for left hander Jeremy Affeldt.
My first thought when I saw Mark DeRosa walk to the plate was, "Where is Tyler Moore." I expressed this thought to some people and they were watching with the same wonderment. Moore this season has been a much better batter than DeRosa and while they are both small sample sizes it is hard to argue that a .133/.286/.200 batter should ever be at the plate over a .328/.403/.578 batter, but there we were in the bottom of the 7th with the Nats rallying and Mark DeRosa stepping to the plate.
Part of my mistake was to assume that this would be the last opportunity Davey had to use Tyler Moore and I felt he was going to lose this game without firing his best bullet from the bench. That was one of the mistakes I made, and the other is that Jeremy Affeldt over his career is a LOOGY with a 4.06 ERA total and in 2012 right handers have a .324 wOBA against him compared to .293 for lefties. Davey was right and any right hander had a huge advantage against Affeldt, and with the way the Nats offense has been clicking this might not be the last opportunity to use Tyler Moore, and that opportunity would come against a better pitcher.
I don't think I am venturing into the territory of measuring approach by results, because looking back at the situation it makes more sense now than it did in the moment. In the moment I had made an assumption and it turns out that that assumption was wrong. DeRosa doubled off of Affeldt and was driven in on a Harper double after a Lombardozzi single.
Affeldt would be lifted without giving up an out and Sergio Romo would come in and get his four outs but allowed two base runners meaning that the number nine spot would be batting in the bottom of the 9th. Davey Johnson had looked ahead better than I had and was correct in saving Tyler Moore to bat against the Giants closer.
After a 1-2-3 inning by Tyler Clippard, Moore led off the 9th with a double and advanced to third on Lombardozzi's sac bunt that resulted in an error on the pitcher. Harper would single in Moore to tie the game and the Giants would intentionally walk Zimmerman with no outs to load the bases and set up a force out at every base. Morse would hit a high chopper and Lombardozzi was thrown out at home by an eyelash.
With one out and the bases still loaded Adam LaRoche would come to the plate and hit another chopper. This one a bit deeper than Morse's and it looked like it was going to be a double play, but Brandon Belt would bobble the low throw from Brandon Crawford, and the Nats would win on a walk-off fielder's choice.
The real story of the game though is the move that Davey made to bring in DeRosa against a pitcher that traditionally struggles against right handers. It is a move I didn't agree with at the time because I was too emotional about Moore being better than DeRosa and the fact that the Nats had a rally going, but Davey doesn't think with emotions. He know that Affeldt struggled against right handers and that any right hander had a good shot to get a hit off of him. By using DeRosa in the 7th Davey was able to save Moore for the 9th and the Giants closer and it ended up paying off in a Nats victory.