59° Good Afternoon
59° Good Afternoon

Mike Matheny's move to Seth Maness just didn't work out in Game 4

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness delivers a

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness delivers a pitch in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. (Oct. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

ST. LOUIS - Red Sox manager John Farrell faced all sorts of second-guessing for moves he did and didn't make after his team lost Game 3 of the World Series.

After Game 4, it was his counterpart's turn.

Mike Matheny found himself on the defensive after the Cardinals' 4-2 loss Sunday night that evened the Series.

The primary decisions that had Cardinals fans talking came in the sixth inning.

Lance Lynn took the mound with the score tied at 1, and with good reason. Although not as dominant as he was early in the game -- he allowed one baserunner in the first four innings -- the righthander still was effective.

Both hits Lynn allowed to that point were off the bat of David Ortiz, who is hitting every pitcher he faces this series (he went 3-for-3 with a walk in Game 4 and was 8-for-11 with a .750 on-base percentage entering Monday night's Game 5).

The sixth inning started easily enough for Lynn as Jacoby Ellsbury popped out to short and Daniel Nava grounded out to third. But Dustin Pedroia lined a single to center, allowing the second-guessers to begin revving their engines when Matheny allowed Lynn to face Ortiz.

A bullpen option would have been lefthander Randy Choate, who held lefty batters to a .176 average during the regular season and a .100 average in this postseason (1-for-10). However, that one hit was by -- who else? -- Ortiz, an opposite-field liner to left in Game 3.

So Matheny stuck with Lynn, a defensible decision given his relatively low pitch count -- 79 to start the inning -- and Ellsbury and Nava going down as quickly as they did.

"No, not at that point,'' Matheny said of Choate being an option in that spot, though not offering specifics. "He was ready. We just weren't going there.''

Lynn responded by throwing four straight balls that were so far outside that Ortiz likely couldn't have reached them had he stepped across the plate.

It all set up the dominant second-guess that Cardinals fans engaged in Monday afternoon in the hours leading up to Game 5.

With two on and two out, Jonny Gomes, 0-for-9 to that point in the Series, came to the plate. Gomes strikes out a lot -- 89 times in 366 plate appearances this season and nine in 35 plate appearances this postseason heading into Game 4 -- but Matheny went with a contact pitcher, righthander Seth Maness and his sinkerball.

"We got into a spot, we had to make a decision,'' Matheny said. "And we take everything into consideration in trying to figure out a way to keep the game where it was at that point."

Maness could not do that, leaving a 2-and-2 sinker up that Gomes drilled over the wall in left-centerfield for a three-run homer and a 4-1 Red Sox lead.

"It was on a tee for him,'' Maness said. "And he capitalized.''

Matheny did not second-guess himself for calling on the 25-year-old rookie, who, to be fair, was tremendous all season.

Maness posted a 2.32 ERA in 66 games and didn't allow a run during the first two rounds of the postseason, although he allowed a hit and a run in two previous appearances in the World Series.

"He's been a guy who's been able to help us out and do an incredible job in that situation all season long,'' Matheny said. "He's been able to come and get the big out when we needed it, and we wanted to give him a shot. And it just didn't work out.''


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports