I hate delving into football here on TOC, but the Seattle Seahawks are still getting eviscerated for their decision to pass at the end of the Super Bowl, resulting in what would be a game-ending interception. It’s being called the worst play call ever. Naturally, we’ve seen our share of awful decisions in the MLB Postseason in recent years. It takes more than one awful decision to lose a baseball game, but some of these recent MLB Postseason decisions have led to absolutely crushing losses for the teams involved.
2014 NLDS Game 2: Matt Williams pulls Jordan Zimmermann.
The Nationals were down 1-0 in the NLDS, and heading to San Francisco down 2-0 would be brutal. Jordan Zimmermann had set down 20 hitters in a row for Washington, and walked Joe Panik on a couple of questions with two outs in the ninth inning. At 100 pitches, Matt Williams pulled Zimmermann…because he didn’t want his ace to face Buster Posey, who was 1/3 on the night. Closer Drew Storen immediately allowed a single to Posey, and two pitches later, Pablo Sandoval doubled home Panik to tie the game at one. Nine innings later, Brandon Belt homered deep into the Washington night off of Tanner Roark to put the Nats in a 2-0 hole.
You go down with your best on the hill – not your shaky closer, who is two years removed from a playoff meltdown for the ages. We’ll touch on that meltdown shortly.
2013 NLDS Game 4: Craig Kimbrel is still waiting.
Fredi Gonzalez refused to adapt during the NLDS against the Dodgers in 2013. With the Braves clinging to a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning of Game 4, they desperately needed a win to send the series back to Atlanta. Instead of bringing in dominant closer Craig Kimbrel, Gonzalez let set-up man David Carpenter pitch the eighth. Yasiel Puig led the inning off with a double, and after failing two bunt Puig over twice, Juan Uribe launched a Carpenter offspeed pitch deep into the Los Angeles night to put LA in front. Kenley Jansen set the Braves down in order in the ninth, and the reigning NL East champions were sent packing.
2012 NLDS Game 5: Davey Johnson lets Drew Storen die on the hill.
Game 5. 7-5 game. Drew Storen on the hill. After a leadoff double, Storen gets two quick outs…and then can’t find the strike zone at all. He walks Yadier Molina. He walks David Freese. Davey Johnson is letting Storen stay on the hill despite 22 pitches, mainly due to Johnson burning four relievers in innings six through eight. Naturally, Storen allows a game-tying infield single to Daniel Descalso on the first pitch. The game isn’t lost, but Storen is *still* left out there to die on the vine. Instead of walking Pete Kozma to get to the pitcher’s spot (and the only bench player the Cardinals had left was light-hitting backup catcher Tony Cruz) following a stolen base by Descalso, Johnson lets Storen pitch to Kozma. He doubles to right, scoring a pair to give the Cardinals a 9-7 lead. Johnson allows Storen to face Motte to end the inning before it mercifully ends. Washington goes down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and their season ends painfully.
2010 NLDS Game 3: everything about the top of the ninth inning.
The ninth inning of the second to last game of Bobby Cox’s career was a disaster, and while a lot of that was just because of Cox getting dealt a bad hand because of injuries, he caused some of the issues himself.
Atlanta and San Francisco were tied 1-1 in the NLDS, and the Braves were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the ninth. Rookie Craig Kimbrel (well, technically this game happened *before* he won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2011, but I digress) came on to close the game out thanks to Billy Wagner being unavailable, recorded a pair of outs, and put a couple of runners on base. Cox then pulled Kimbrel and replaced him with LOOGY Mike Dunn, who would face Aubrey Huff. To this point, Kimbrel had struck out six, walked one, and allowed one hit in 3 1/3 NLDS innings. Needless to say, playing matchups in the ninth seemed a bit questionable when you’re replacing a guy like Kimbrel. Naturally, Huff singled to score Travis Ishikawa and tie the game at two. Dunn was replaced by Peter Moylan, who got the ground ball that Cox wanted…only it went through the legs of Brooks Conrad, pressed into duty at second base because of injuries to Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, *and* Troy Glaus. Freddy Sanchez scored what would be the game-winning run.
The injuries don’t absolve Cox from blame. He still had the light-hitting Diory Hernandez on his bench, and he could have moved Hernandez to third (or second) and moved Omar Infante across the diamond to second. Conrad’s defense had already been shaky earlier in the game after he bobbled a grounder in the first inning and dropped a pop up in the second inning, so it’s not as if Conrad’s struggles were unexpected. When you combine questionable bullpen management with a lack of defensive substitution, you have this awful, terrible, no good, very bad ninth inning.
2009 World Series Game 4: the Phillies and their damn shift.
The Yankees had a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 of the World Series. In the ninth, with the game knotted at four, Johnny Damon singled with two outs. The Phillies shifted for Mark Teixeira, and Damon stole second on the first pitch. He then immediately stole the unoccupied third base, and would score what would prove to be the game-winning run two batters later. And this is an example of how the shift can hurt you, folks.