Over a 162-game season, there will be several decisions by a manager that will be criticized in hindsight and Don Mattingly is no exception.
In the 10th inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 14-inning loss to the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers had the winning run on second base in the form of slow-footed catcher A.J. Ellis with Yasiel Puig at the plate. Mattingly elected to leave Ellis to run for himself and he was eventually held at third when Puig singled to right. Mattingly then decided to run for Ellis once he was at third, but Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe both struck out to end the inning.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Mattingly had no intention of running for Ellis at second base and defended his decision despite many disagreeing with it:
I don’t think he (Arruebarrena) scores either (from second on Puig’s single to right),” Mattingly insisted. “We talked about it before the inning. That’s two more players there. It didn’t change anything. He’s not scoring there.”
The reference to two more players means that Arruebarrena would be burned as a runner and the Dodgers would be down to their final catcher in Drew Butera. The decision to burn two was different once Ellis reached third because of the chance of a sacrifice fly. Ultimately, Mattingly’s move was questioned even more once the Dodgers lost the game and that inning was highlighted even more so.
While some risk was involved going down to one catcher, that risk would be eliminated had Arruebarrena scored from second and ended the game on the single. In the end, it became one decision of many in a baseball game and was not the reason the Dodgers lost the game.
The Dodgers will try to shake off the loss with a day off on Thursday and a three-game set at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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