Bob Geren's continued misuse of the Oakland A's bullpen is getting very tiresome. Here we have another game in which Geren's decisions were headscratching to say the least.
Geren did make one right decision, however, and that was taking Gio Gonzalez out after he pitched seven solid innings and bringing in Craig Breslow. This was because Breslow has been the most consistent reliever out of the bullpen this year for the A's.
Every other decision Geren made after that cost the A's runs and the game.
After Breslow pitched an inning, he was relieved by Andrew Bailey, the A's closer for the ninth inning. Most managers know the only reason to bring a closer into a game is in a save situation; unfortunately Geren doesn't realize this.
With the way Breslow had pitched in the eighth inning there was no reason not to bring him out for the ninth. Bailey came in, got the first out with a strikeout, and got the second batter to fly out to shallow center field, but Bailey was not able to get the third out.
He gave up a walk and then Bailey, who was not paying attention to the runner, allowed an easily stolen base.
Jay Bruce was at the plate pinch hitting, and even though Bailey got ahead of him and had him with two strikes, he left a pitch on the inside corner that was way too good of a pitch in that situation, and Bruce smacked the ball easily into right field for a single.
Ryan Sweeney had no chance of throwing the runner out who scored from second.
Bailey got out of the inning without incurring any more damage. Now Bailey has also shown he can go more than an inning and at this point he would have been left in. He didn't take the loss because Kevin Kouzmanoff hit the first pitch he saw from Francisco Cordero out of the ballpark, tying the game up at 2-2.
Into the game came the struggling Michael Wuertz. The first pitch Ramon Hernandez saw he hit out to left field, hitting the foul pole for a home run. The next batter was Brandon Phillips, who hit a single to right center.
Wuertz was actually lucky that Phillips didn't hustle down the line because he could have easily been at second base. Paul Janish was the next batter and he sacrificed Phillips to second.
Joey Votto was the next batter for the Reds. Instead of bringing in a more experienced left-handed reliever in Jerry Blevins, Geren brought in Cedric Bowers to face Votto. Bowers didn't help himself by falling behind to Votto with a 3-1 count.
Instead of just letting Votto go to first, he tried to groove a pitch into Votto, who was sitting dead red and hit the ball out for a two-run home run. A game that was tied at 2-2 to start the inning was now a 5-2 Reds lead.
Bowers should have been taken out right after he gave up the home run; instead he was left in to face the dangerous Scott Rolen, who promptly hit a solo shot off of Bowers to add to the Reds lead, 6-2.
The A's in the bottom of the inning put some pressure on the Reds, who actually showed Geren what you do in those situations. Cordero walked the first two batters of the inning.
Baker then replaced Cordero with Daniel Ray Herrera, who gave up a single to Kurt Suzuki, but no runner was able to score. The A's had the bases loaded with nobody out.
Ryan Sweeney was the next batter up for the A's and Herrera induced a ground ball to the right side that allowed a run to score, but now the A's had runners on second and third with one out.
Jordan Smith then relieved Herrera for the Reds. He got Kouzmanoff, the A's hottest hitter, to ground out to third that allowed another A's runner to score, cutting the Reds lead to 6-4.
Jack Cust, with a runner at second and the ability to tie it up, just missed tying the game. He ran the count full, but ended up striking out and ended the game.
Baker shows he's been around for a while and he's not going to leave in a struggling pitcher for very long. In this case Cordero started the inning with back-to-back walks.
Geren, on the other hand, after Bowers allowed the two-run home run to Votto, left Bowers in to face a dangerous hitter in Rolen.
Not to mention the fact that Geren went in the top of the 10th inning with a reliever coming into the game with a 6.35 ERA. The pitcher replacing him had a decent ERA of 3.24 but didn't have experience in the situation he was put into.
It has come to the point for Geren to use Wuertz only in blowouts. It is clear that Wuertz's confidence is not 100 percent and this is the only way for him to build into games where he isn't going to blow a win.
Yet, that's too hard for Geren to realize. He still believes that Wuertz is the same guy from 2009 even though Wuertz hasn't even been remotely close to pitching like he did last year.