Some of Phil Garner’s decisions last night adversely affected his team. First of all, the athletes on the field (the Houston Astros) were given several excellent chances and could not execute. They share a great deal of responsibility because they did not deliver any clutch hitting. But it is questionable as to whether the best Houston line-up was on the field at times.
Garner has had a strong post-season and made some great moves. Clemens and Burke in Game 4 of the N.L.D.S. were examples of the right players at the right time, as was Vizcaino pinch-hitting in Game 2 of the World Series. It’s one thing to go all out and lose; Houston will discover that it is much worse to lose when you did not use every tool available.
Coaching isn’t social work. I have no doubt that Jeff Bagwell and Ezequiel Astacio are nice gentlemen but they shouldn’t have been in the game in those spots. Garner will be the subject of a flurry of second-guessing that will remind him that coaching is much more about “what have you done for me lately?” than on-field loyalty (off-field/off-court value systems needn’t be comprimised.)
Bagwell no longer possesses the bat speed to handle a pitcher like Jon Garland and it would have been extremely surprising had Astacio preserved the tie. W – Marte (1-0), S – Buerhle (1) looks odd but it did the job. As Homer Simpson opined, “you don’t make friends with salad,” and you don’t win the World Series with Ezequiel Astacio while Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and Brandon Backe sit on the bench. The Astros could not afford to go down 3-0 in games and should have employed dire measures.
In October, the goal is winning and coaches must disperse with equality in favour of equity and excellence. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts…