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Because you can’t let Jose Constanza beat you

Oct 4, 2013, 10:02 PM EDT

Jose Constanza AP

If there’s a worse hitter than Jose Constanza on a postseason roster, it’s safe to say the guy also dabbles in some mound work.

This is a guy who hit .276/.332/.314 with no homers and 17 RBI this year… in Triple-A! In the majors, he came in at .258 in 31 at-bats. He also had a .258 OBP, as well as a .258 slugging percentage. One third of his hits were bunt singles. The guy has so little power that 44 percent of his hits as a major leaguer have failed to leave the infield.

Still, there was Don Mattingly, unwilling to take the chance that Constanza would add on to the Braves’ 2-1 lead with two outs in the seventh tonight. The left-handed-hitting Constanza was Atlanta’s pinch-hitter with two outs and men on second and third. Right-hander Chris Withrow had gotten into the jam, but he had just struck out Elliot Johnson with a looping curve to give himself a chance to get out of it.

Mattingly had three options at that point:

1. Let Withrow face Jose Constanza
2. Bring in a lefty to face a right-handed pinch-hitter
3. Bring in a lefty to walk the right-handed pinch-hitter and face lefty Jason Heyward instead

Mattingly went with No. 3. He called on Paco Rodriguez, and the intentional walk came after the Braves countered with Reed Johnson. Heyward proceeded to single up the middle, scoring two runs, and the Braves ended up winning 4-3 to even up the NLDS at one game apiece.

Of course, things could have worked out differently. Rodriguez truly has been murder on left-handed hitters this year, limiting them to a .131 average. Heyward has actually been better against lefties than righties, but Rodriguez likely retires him at least 75 percent of the time there.

Really, though, it’s often true that the simplest solution is best. Left-handed hitters batted .217 against Withrow this year, and Constanza is as bad as any he faced. Plus, Heyward is the one of those options that could have turned this into a game over with one swing of the bat. A typically squib single from Conzstanza might not even have scored the second run. On the other hand, it something went wrong with Heyward, it could have been a 6-1 score.

It wasn’t a horrible decision from Mattingly. Odds are that he’ll make worse calls that work out better later in the series. Still, he’ll be reliving this one for months if the Dodgers lose the series, particularly since Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the eighth that brought the Dodgers to within 4-3.

  1. Jeff M. - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    Walking Reed Johnson to get to Heyward? What a terrible decision by Mattingly.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:23 PM

      Harry Doyle: “They’re going to walk Beck to get to Parkman. Obviously Taylor thinking… I don’t know what the hell he’s thinking.”

  2. Francisco (FC) - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    You’re begging for a caption with that picture: “FEAR the BAT!”

  3. weaselpuppy - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    It also begs the question of why do you not put the IW on the guy leaving the mound? Paco comes in and is told to throw 4 balls into the LH batters box…weird.

    • jjschiller - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      By making the pitching change before the intentional walk, he forced Fredi to burn Constanza and pinch hit with Reed Johnson. That’s why he had the next guy throw the intentional walk.

  4. billgatesbarber - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    1st and 2nd, no out, and Simmons is up followed by E. Johnson and a PH (Constanza). Why the hell would you ask the best batter by far of those three to sacrifice? Not only do you give them a free out but you leave it up to two guys that should be at AAA. Luckily for Fredi, Mattingly one upped him.

  5. billgatesbarber - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    And why can’t a closer get 6 outs when he hasn’t pitched in a week and has an off-day tomorrow?

  6. sycophanticide - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    @ billgatesbarber – Simmons is a pretty poor hitter too. Your comment makes you sound like a true asshat.

    You sound like a disgruntled Nats fan. At least our manager didn’t keep trotting our franchise’s centerpiece out there night after night with a concussion.

    • emdash01 - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      That’s a truly bizarre assumption and subject change.

    • cur68 - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:52 AM

      Hey man, chill the eff-out. The barber just made a mildly contrary point. A point which, in the context he places it, is rather accurate: Simmons is better than Costanza and Johnson. He just is. So he’s the guy who should be swinging away. How is this the statement of “a true asshat”? Have you considered perhaps a little less caffeine? A few less of the angry pills?

      Man. The Interwebs. Where totally non-tough people go to pick e-fights.

      • sycophanticide - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        Thank the Lord! Web Officer Cur is here to police the postings! Everyone can come out now – it’s safe!

        First off – I happen to know the barber. And he is a true asshat (even without said comments above).

        Second – he roots for a nemesis so I took to here to let him know I was unhappy with his assessment of my team.

        That is all.

        Curious though how you jump in a post that clearly directed at someone else, attempt to insult me in some offhanded remarks about angry pills and caffeine even though you know not who I am, and then close with a musing about how the internet encourages the weak to start anonymous fights…

        Irony anyone?

        No thanks… I’m full.

      • cur68 - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        So…still on the angry pills, eh? Oh well. Have a nice life.

  7. moogro - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Adrian and Yasiel threw away at-bats with weird impatience.

  8. billgatesbarber - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    Steve Lombardozi had a concussion?

  9. StottsEra - Oct 5, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    lots of MANAGING from both teams that inning

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