ST. LOUIS -- Since dropping Game 1 of the National League Division Series, 3-2, to the Nationals, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny admits to replaying his eighth-inning bullpen decisions in his head several times. He offered no regrets for handling the pitching change the way he did, preferring to credit Washington for winning a matchup he felt would work in St. Louis' favor.
Matheny relayed on Monday that he had little hesitation pulling Mitchell Boggs with two runners in scoring position and two outs in the eighth. Though Boggs had thrown only 11 pitches, the inning, which began with an error, had been stressful enough that Matheny found "it time to get him some help."
Believing he needed to make a move, Matheny saw two choices. He could go to closer Jason Motte for a four-out save, something Matheny has done several times before. Or he could turn to lefty Marc Rzepczynski. The catch was that with the pitcher's spot due up fourth in the bottom of the eighth, Matheny would have had to make a double-switch to get Motte in the game and keep him from batting in a potentially critical spot in the bottom half of the inning.
That would have required taking out one of his middle-of-the-order bats, a move that, with a one-run lead, Matheny didn't think was wise. Thus, he sent in his lone lefty reliever.
Matheny anticipated the Nationals would counter with a right-handed bat -- which they did in sending up Tyler Moore -- but the manager said he still liked the matchup. Right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters have had nearly identical success against Rzepczynski this year.
"I like the way he's been throwing the ball, and we need him," Matheny said. "I have a lot of faith in Rzepczynski getting him out. I have faith in my guy to get the job done."
In this instance, Rzepczynski couldn't. Moore dropped a two-run single into right field. The hit turned out to be the game-winner for Washington.
"It's easy to sit back and look at, 'What if I would have done this, that or the other?' and you can pretty much drive yourself crazy in this business if you do that enough," Matheny said. "But I also think it would be a mistake not to go back through it and make sure that all of the bases were covered, and that we looked at it from every angle. And we did, and it just didn't work out our way."