2. Last night was a chess match
If you’re a fan of the “thinking” aspect of baseball, you enjoyed last night’s game, right? One of the biggest reasons that I favor baseball over any other sport is the mental aspect of the game. Decisions are made from pitch-to-pitch that affect the outcome of the game. Last night, David Bell outwitted Joe Maddon.
Joe Maddon is regarded as one of the brightest minds in baseball and for good reason. Regardless of what you think of him or his team, the Chicago Cubs manager has been one of the best in the game for a long time. However, last night, Bell got the better of him.
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There wasn’t a lot of strategy early in the game. While it was surprising that the Cincinnati Reds got virtually nothing off starter Yu Darvish, other than some early steals from rookie Nick Senzel, there weren’t a lot of high-leverage situations that called for Bell or Maddon to make crucial decisions.
Bell deployed the reserves of Robert Stephenson, Jared Hughes, and Wandy Peralta in the sixth and seventh innings. While the move to Peralta rather than Amir Garrett was questioned by some, it turned out to be the right move.
Yes, Peralta gave up a sac fly, but Garrett was needed much later in the game and David Bell showed great restraint in not going to his best bullpen arm early. Again, this is chess, not checkers, and David Bell was playing the long game.
Maddon’s move to Carl Edwards in the 8th inning proved costly as Suárez took the right-hander deep to tie the game. Edwards entered last night’s game with an 11.57 ERA and had been erratic lately with only 6 strikeouts and 5 walks in 7 games.
While Maddon’s decision to walk Jesse Winker to get to Yasiel Puig can be questioned, given the situation, there was little else the Cubs manager could’ve done. However, the biggest move of the game was Bell’s confidence in Amir Garrett with the Cubs’ hottest hitter sitting on the bench waiting for his chance.
David Bell pulled Raisel Iglesias in the 10th inning with 2 outs and 2 runners on base to face the left-hander Kyle Schwarber. Maddon countered with pinch hitter Willson Contreras who entered last night’s game with a .305/.413/.610 slash line.
Garrett reared back with an 85-MPH slider on the first pitch and Contreras hit a dribbler back towards the mound that Garrett fielded cleanly and fired to first base in time. Bell’s faith in Garrett was rewarded and that may not be the last time we see the flamethrowing southpaw in that type of high-leverage situation.