This might be the dumbest managerial decision I've ever seen:
Top 18th: Arizona
- H. Blanco at third
- J. Wilson pitching
- F. Lopez singled to center
- G. Parra sacrificed to pitcher, F. Lopez to second
- R. Roberts walked
- S. Drew popped out to catcher
- M. Reynolds homered to deep right, F. Lopez and R. Roberts scored
- M. Montero doubled to deep right
- C. Young popped out to second
The G. Parra is Geraldo Parra, a rookie outfielder for the San Diego Padres. The game took place on Sunday, where the Pads and the Arizona Diamondbacks were locked in a 6-6 game in the 18th inning. Parra is off to a decent start in his rookie campaign, with a .301/.453/.492 batting line 23 games into his career. He was 2 for 7 with a walk and a double before the 18th inning at-bat, so it's not like Parra was having an off night.
Why, then, would Diamondbacks manager AJ Hinch ask Parra to sacrifice?
This decision might have made sense in the ninth inning, when one extra run would've been enough to hold off the Padres' furious last-ditch rally in the bottom of the frame. It might have even made sense at any point from the 10th through the 17th inning, since one run would've been enough to end the marathon.
But it made absolutely no sense in the 18th inning.
You see, the Padres had run out of pitchers. A five-inning start from Josh Geer turned out to be more costly then anyone could've imagined, when seven relievers and one starter were asked to cover the next 12 innings of the game for San Diego.
The J. Wilson who trotted to the mound in the top of the 18th inning was Josh Wilson, a light-hitting middle infielder who, ironically, began the season with Arizona. He must not have paid enough attention to the scouting reports while he was there, because former teammate Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer off Wilson later in the inning that proved to be the margin of victory for the Diamondbacks.
The game-winning home run diverted attention away from Hinch's inexplicable decision to give up an out against a "pitcher" with virtually no professional experience on the mound. Wilson, quite obviously, is not really a pitcher - he has never taken the mound in his 11-year minor league career and has pitched a grand total of two scoreless innings in two mop-up appearances over the last three seasons.
Was Hinch afraid that Parra was going to hit into a double play? Does he have so little faith in his lineup that he really believed he had to manufacture a run against a utility infielder?
Or is Hinch so wedded to conventional thinking that he simply ordered up the sacrifice without thinking about the actual situation? Yes, if you play by "the book," your offense should be willing to sacrifice and play for the one run that would give your team the lead. (Of course, Arizona had already used their closer at that point, so it was a miracle that a nondescript middle reliever was actually able to hold a three-run lead in such a "clutch" situation.)
"After a while, it was like, any way we could score a run," Hinch said after the game. "We bunted off a position player. How rare was that? Just trying to scratch and claw for a run. I felt it was the hardest run we've ever had to score."
No, AJ, bunting off a position player isn't rare - it is stupid. I don't know what's worse - the fact that Hinch even ordered up the sacrifice or the fact that, if he hadn't, someone actually might've questioned Hinch's decision-making for not doing so.