The Toronto Blue Jays – Baltimore Orioles American League wild-card game Tuesday night had everything; a wild crowd, a thrown beer, an early Toronto lead, a comeback home run from Baltimore, extra innings, and then the fourth postseason walk-off home run in Blue Jays’ history:
That’s a superb blast from Edwin Encarnacion, but a lot of people are wondering why it came off struggling reliever Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a 5.4 ERA this season. By contrast, the Orioles’ best reliever, Zach Britton and his MLB record 0.54 ERA, didn’t make an appearance. On TBS’ post-game show, host Casey Stern wondered why Baltimore manager Buck Showalter didn’t put in Britton.
“He was the best pitcher in baseball this season,” Stern said. “How in God’s name is he not in this game?”
Gary Sheffield also questioned Jimenez’s usage, saying “To me, that guy never should have been in the game.”
They had plenty joining them on Twitter, too:
The Orioles, season on the line, are using Ubaldo Fucking Jimenez instead of a relief pitcher who just posted the lowest ERA in MLB history.
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) October 5, 2016
"Zach Britton is our best pitcher. I wonder if we can go a whole game without pitching him."
— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) October 5, 2016
Ubaldo Jimenez over Zach Britton is one of the worst managerial decisions we've seen in a long time.
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) October 5, 2016
47 saves, an ERA of 0.54 and you don't bring in Zach Britton. That's just pure stupidity! Makes zero sense. #showalter
— Mitchell Blair (@scruffyregina) October 5, 2016
Even David Simon, creator of The Wire and a diehard Orioles’ fan, weighed in with a Wire reference:
Where's Britton, String? Where's Britton?
— David Simon (@AoDespair) October 5, 2016
Some raised the spectre of Britton being hurt:
Either Britton is hurt or we just saw the worst managerial decision in my lifetime. https://t.co/dbelp4dLsf
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) October 5, 2016
Britton ERA: .54
Jimenez ERA: 5.4
I can only assume Britton is hurt/sick/something.
— Dan Brooks (@brooksbaseball) October 5, 2016
By the way, there was lots of discussion about the possibility of Britton being hurt, but Showalter confirmed afterwards that he was healthy and available:
Buck Showalter on Zack Britton: "He was fine."
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 5, 2016
Showalter then denied that Britton’s better despite his ERA being one-tenth of Jimenez’s:
"Nobody has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo."
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) October 5, 2016
Here are a couple of clips of Showalter discussing why he didn’t use Britton:
And Britton expressed his own frustration afterwards:
Zach Britton says he was perfectly healthy, frustrated he didn't pitch
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 5, 2016
Showalter also took fire for another managerial decision, pitching to Encarnacion in that situation. TBS analyst Pedro Martinez went after him for that on the post-game show, saying “I did not understand why they had to pitch to Edwin Encarnacion with the winning runner on third and first base open.”
But they did, and they got Jimenez to do so, and the result was this home run, which sees the Jays advance to play the Texas Rangers while the Orioles go home. Stern finished with “This is one of the worst, for me personally, managerial decisions I’ve seen in the postseason,” and there will be many who agree with him. Without Britton, the Orioles suffered their own Brexit.
[Matt Clapp on Clippit]