I'm not usually critical of major league managers. I figure their lifetime of experiences trump the five years I spent working in organized baseball.
However, today was my birthday and I was just trying to enjoy it. Willie Randolph made that difficult.
After the Mets stretched their lead to five runs in the top of the seventh against the Angels, Randolph allowed Mike Pelfrey to come back out for the bottom half of the inning.
I didn't really have a problem with this. He hadn't thrown that many pitches and had thrown well the two previous innings.
However, after he allowed a lead-off single, I figured he'd pitch until one more batter reached. But, after Gary Matthews fouled off fastball after fastball before drawing a 12-pitch walk, Pelfrey remained on the bump.
His pitch count was well over 110 and he looked tired. Yet, Randolph left him in to give up one more hit and add fuel to the mounting Angels rally.
This didn't make any sense.
In Pelfrey's last outing, he worked into the ninth with a three-run lead. He gave up a lead-off single and was promptly removed.
However, Pelfrey was in a groove that night and had his tailing fastball working as an out pitch. He hadn't allowed a run and struck out a career-high eight batters. I understand Randolph didn't want to ruin the strong outing by Pelfrey, but I felt if he wanted to feed the young man's confidence, he should have done so on a night when the righty had everything working.
Tonight, Pelfrey didn't have anything working to put guys away. He kept his ball down and relied on grounders and weak fly balls to get his outs. Once the seventh came, his fastball was up in the zone more and Angles hitters hit the ball harder.
It would have made sense to pull Pelfrey as quickly as his last outing. Six innings of three-run baseball is a solid performance for your fifth starter.
Did Randolph lack confidence in his relievers? Was he trying to build up the youngster's confidence?
My five years in baseball taught me that, unless you're in the dugout, you don't really know what's going on with the players or coaching staff.
But I didn't need a field-level view to see that Randolph's decision nearly cost the Mets this game, too.