Who said games with a DH don't have any strategy?
Last night Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish faced several tough choices in the late innings of his team's 4-1 victory over Rochester at Fifth Third Field.
The first came at the start of the seventh, when Hens starter Sean Douglass already had thrown 99 pitches. Parrish kept Douglass in to pitch the seventh, and that strategy worked when Douglass got the next three outs.
"I thought, match-up wise, he was going up against some hitters that he matched up well against," Parrish said to explain his decision. "We had somebody ready, though."
Parrish replaced Douglass with Craig Dingman to start the eighth. Dingman got two outs but also walked a pair to bring the tying run to the plate in Garrett Jones, a left-handed hitter who leads the International League with 10 home runs.
Parrish brought lefty Vic
Darensbourg in to face Jones, and Darensbourg got a fly out to end the threat. Darensbourg got two outs in the ninth, but he also walked two batters, so Parrish called on right-hander Jason Karnuth to pitch to pinch-hitter Rob Bowen.
"Darensbourg got the big out to end the eighth, so we were trying to go without using Karnuth," Parrish said. "But we were throwing 3-2 breaking balls for ball 4 to guys, so we brought Karnuth in because Bowen's stats are better batting right-handed."
Parrish had no trouble with Rochester manager Rich Miller's strategy to pinch-hit Bowen for Jason Tyner, who already had reached base twice thanks to walks.
"That was one of those deals where you're taking a shot that a guy can hit the ball out of the ballpark and tie the game," Parrish said. "That's not Tyner's strong suit."
But the seventh inning also pointed out how a manager's strategy can be overrated. Both teams got their leadoff man on base that inning, and each manager called for a sacrifice bunt.
Rochester's Corky Miller failed to bunt, then hit into a double play. Curtis Granderson failed to bunt or execute the hit-and-run, yet singled to set up a two-run Mud Hens rally.
"It all depends on the performance of your players," Parrish said.
"If you manage long enough to get a good club and a bad club, you realize it ain't you [that matters]. You make the same moves; the difference is the execution of a good club and the lack of execution by a bad club."
Parrish may be forced to juggle his bullpen today, since Darensbourg and Karnuth both have pitched in each of the past two games.
"We won two games with them, so you can't second-guess that - we won," Parrish said.
LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE DEFENSE: Douglass was quick to praise the play of his defense yesterday after it made several big plays to support him.
In the outfield, Dewayne Wise made a diving catch in left to rob Tyner of a hit on the first at-bat of the game, and Alexis Gomez ran to the wall to rob Jason Bartlett of a hit in the eighth.
On the infield, shortstop Kevin Hooper's diving stop on Josh Rabe's second-inning line drive was turned into a double play, and third baseman Mike Hessman stayed with a ball that took a funny hop to get a force in the sixth.
"There were just good
defensive plays all over, and in a tight game like that those are the plays you need to give you the win," Douglass said. "Everybody did what they needed to do to give us the win."
HANNAHAN'S STATUS: Mud Hens 3B Jack Hannahan missed his third straight game because of a hamstring injury suffered Friday. Steady rains canceled batting practice yesterday, but Hannahan was able to run on a treadmill.
Parrish hopes to have Hannahan available for this morning's game, but if Hannahan does not play he will get two days of rest. The Hens will take tomorrow off before beginning a two-game
series at Columbus Thursday.
THREE-DOT DATA: Last night's crowd of 4,490 is the third-smallest for the Hens this season. With three hits in four at-bats yesterday Ryan Raburn now has a five-game hit streak, during which he has batted .421 (8-for-19) with eight RBIs.