Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has taken a lot of heat for not going to Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning of their fateful game four National League Division Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he maintains that he wouldn't have done it any other way.
The decision resulted in David Carpenter giving up a lead-off double to Yasiel Puig, and after Juan Uribe screwed up a bunt attempt, he hit a homer off Carp to give the Dodgers the lead. Many fans as well as Kimbrel wanted to see the Braves' closer come in sooner.
"I feel good about the decision," Gonzalez said on braves.com. "You don't ever want to end a game like that. But I'm not second-guessing myself with any of those decisions, starting Freddy Garcia or not bringing Kimbrel in for two innings."
Kimbrel apparently told Gonzalez that he wanted the chance to pitch two innings, but Fredi G had other ideas.
"He came in before the game and said, 'I can do whatever you want me to do,'" Gonzalez said. "He said, 'If you want me to pitch two innings, I can do whatever you want.' I've also had guys who have had tough, tough years come in and tell me, 'I want to hit fourth.' I subscribe to the theory, and I will continue to do so, that you put guys in position where you feel they are going to be successful and you go with it."
Gonzalez may have a point there. Out of the 237 combined regular and postseason appearances Kimbrel has made in his career, exactly three of them have been for two innings.
"We were going to go for four outs [for Kimbrel], and they were trying to give us an out there with Uribe," Gonzalez said. "It goes from a bunting situation to a two-run homer. That would have been one less out that we would have had to worry about. We were going to go with four outs."
And, in fairness to all parties, it's not like Carpenter had been a scrub all year. He posted a 1.78 ERA in 65 2/3 innings this season.
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