Managing Plays the Lead in Mets' 20-Inning, 2-1 Victory Over St. Louis

Sam BlumCorrespondent IApril 18, 2010

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 10:  Manager Tony La Russa #10 of the St Louis Cardinals watches his team warm up before taking on the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium on March 10, 2010 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Yesterday at Busch Stadium will be a day that will go down in baseball history. It was truly remarkable that a game in this era of baseball goes a full 18 innings without a run crossing home. 

However, the story of last night's game was not dictated by the hitting, pitching, running, or fielding; it was the managing. And you better believe that there were a lot of questionable moves.

Whenever a game goes that long, there will be a lot of strategical moves that need to be made. Everything from substitutions to sacrifice bunts, to who is going to pitch.

It looked like after the first five innings that last nights game would be a brisk one as there had only been a combined three hits. However as the game waned on to extra innings, it was clear that this game was going to be lengthy.

The Mets used their bullpen conservatively. They refused to bring closer and bullpen leader Francisco Rodriguez in despite situations that were dire, such as bases loaded 10th, or a second and third no out situation in the 14th. In fact every pitcher went at least 1.1 innings, including Pedro Feliciano, who is usually used to get just one or two batters. 

It was the same case for St. Louis, however, they had already set themselves up for a situation that was sure to come bite them in the backside. The number four hitter Matt Holiday was taken out after the 10th for defensive purposes. This was a terrible mistake. The home team should not take anyone for defensive purposes in a tied game because you cannot lose the game in the top of the inning. One should definitely not do this when he is the only thing keeping pitchers from not intentionally walking Albert Pujols to get to what would now become the pitchers position thanks to a double switch. There were multiple times that Albert Pujols was walked to get to that number four position where Tony La Russa was basically forced to bat a reliever because he wanted to be able to keep his relievers in the game as long as possible.

In what may have been the worst managerial decision of the night, the Mets elected to pitch to one of the most experienced hitters in baseball in Yadier Molina with a runner on third, instead of walking him to get to rookie Allen Craig, who is batting .071, and has only 14 career at bats, with just one major league hit. K-Rod eventually retired Craig, after he allowed a game tying single to Molina.

Some other questionable moves in this game was pitching choices of Tony La Russa, who ended up pitching two position players for a combined three innings. Both Mets runs were allowed then, and you have to believe that if the Cardinals had gone with one of their starters, they probably would have won the game.

Baseball is a game of strategy, but when there is 20 innings of baseball, even the slightest miss call can cost you big time.