LOS ANGELES -- A day after taking the opening game of their National League Championship Series against the Dodgers last Friday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny remarked that a series of non-moves loomed large in his team's ability to eventually capture the 13-inning win. If that game was defined by moves not made, Tuesday night's Game 4 victory was built upon a series of decisions that went right.
Matheny stuck with Lance Lynn just long enough. The manager inserted Pete Kozma as a defensive replacement in the sixth and then watched Kozma make a handful of key plays late at shortstop. Carlos Martinez handled a two-inning relief assignment. And there were no repercussions for taking out three-hole hitter Matt Holliday for defensive purposes in the seventh inning.
"I think it was just one of those games. Yesterday, some things fell into place," Matheny said. "Yesterday, we ended up doing them and some guys came in and did some very special stuff. ... I'm a hypocrite if I start preaching urgency and I don't manage with urgency."
The riskiest move, Matheny conceded, was pulling Holliday, who had earlier put the Cardinals ahead with his second postseason homer. It's a move that Matheny made several times this season, though usually not until the eighth inning. He had also seen it backfire, in particular in an August game against the Pirates where Pittsburgh twice pitched around the top of the batting order once Holliday's middle-of-the-order spot had been assumed by a pitcher.
But with Shane Robinson having just been used a pinch-hitter, Matheny had to make the change in the seventh or not make it at all.
"It's a gamble," Matheny said. "That's something that I've spent a lot of time talking to not just our coaches, but coaches through the Minor Leagues, coaches in other organizations; [they] talk to me about improving your defense late in a game. Some of them said they will do it no matter what. I don't like it ... especially when you're talking about replacing three- and four-hole hitters. It's a big move. You're taking the risk of that offensive spot coming back up and not having a key guy in there."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less