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Rzepczynski shouldn't have faced the Rangers' Napoli in game 5
Neither Tony LaRussa nor Ron Washington are going to be invited to publish tactical guides for baseball managers after several head-scratching moves in this series.
LaRussa was second-guessed after allowing left handed reliever Mark Rzepczynski to face red-hot righty Mike Napoli in the bottom of the eighth in Game 5. (Napoli's double provided the winning margin in the 4-2 Rangers win.)
LaRussa had inserted Rzepczynski to face the previous hitter, David Murphy—a smart move, considering that Murphy batted 81 points lower against lefties than righties in 2011.
While Murphy spoiled the move by reaching base on a potential double play grounder that Rzepczynski failed to cleanly field, LaRussa's move itself made sense. Far more so than his "the dog ate the bullpen phone" excuse for odd bullpen management.
Unless you can figure out how "Rzepczynski" could logically be confused with "Motte."
Add the head-scratching, botched hit-and-run in the ninth inning with Albert Pujols at the plate as the potential tying run, and you've got to wonder where LaRussa's head was. Especially when it was revealed that Pujols, not the bench, put that play in motion.
Washington's tactical acumen also raised eyebrows, especially in Thursday's epic (yes, even a cynic can admit that) Game 6.
Situation: bottom of the tenth, two outs, Rangers ahead 9-8, potential tying run at second base, Lance Berkman batting. Washington positioned his outfield so deep they were across the Illinois state line.
Berkman's soft liner scored the tying run; David Freese's solo homer won the game in the eleventh. Would Josh Hamilton have had a chance to throw out John Jay even if he were playing a shallower center field? Doubtful, especially with Jay running on contact.
Point is: World Series managers ought to be on top of their games. This year, they aren't.