I obviously know that Travis Hafner runs like the infield dirt is molasses. However, pinch running Adam Everett for him in the 8th inning was absolutely ridiculous. The idea was that Hafner was the go-ahead run and on a ball in the gap Everett’s chance to score was probably a dozen times better than Pronk’s, but Everett was not the winning run. Some may argue that Acta was playing for the win and that is commendable. Playing for the win is certainly the only way to play in my opinion, but let’s take a closer look at the situation.
It was the bottom of the 8th, no outs and two men on. Pronk had just singled home Cord Phelps moving Asdrubal Cabrera to second. Choo at the plate, Santana and Buck to follow. This is where Manny Acta makes the decision that, I feel, caused more of a hindrance than assistance. Your (arguably) two hottest hitters are coming up, followed by a guy who hadn’t had a hit since Nixon was in office and two light swingers (and I’m putting that nicely, I think). With Everett replacing Hafner he is now your de facto clean up hitter, meaning you’d need to pull someone off the bench if that spot in the order comes up again because Adam Everett is about as bad as it could get in the clean up spot. The options to replace him: Sizemore, Kearns and Orlando Cabrera, none of whom are hitting over .250.
As it went, Choo flew out and Santana lined out, then 0-24 Travis Buck came through with a base hit to tie the game and Jack Hannahan lined out to center. Having Everett in there made zero difference. None. Pure Rage came in and gave up a bomb to Seth Smith, so come the bottom of the 9th we’ve got hitters 9-1-2 coming up. Grady pinch hits for Marson and makes an out and Brantley follows suit. With two outs Cord Phelps comes through with a triple, meaning Asdrubal Cabrera comes up with two bases open and either Austin Kearns or Orlando Cabrera on deck. A-Cab had no chance of getting a pitch to hit in that situation and of course Kearns struck out to end the game.
As I said before, I see the conventional wisdom that went into the decision to pinch run Hafner. As soon as it happened though, I said aloud to the others in the room “you KNOW now that the clean up spot will come up again.” It did, and it cost us a chance at a win. With Hafner on deck, you would have had your two best clutch hitters up with a runner on third in a one run game. Without him, you take the bat out of your best players hands and put it into the hands of a has-been who, in reality, didn’t stand a chance up there. Acta has made some good decisions this year, but this was a huge mistake in my eyes.