CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Chess Match: Victorino's dash ill-fated

Chess Match: Victorino's dash ill-fated

ST. PETERSBURG -- A busy night full of plot twists tested two managers Wednesday night. Neither Charlie Manuel nor Joe Maddon had ever managed in the World Series before Game 1 at Tropicana Field, but neither really revealed himself as callow on baseball's biggest stage.

Complete Coverage

As it turned out, one of the game's biggest decisions was made not by either manager but by a player on the field. Here's a look at how the tactics turned out in the opener of the Fall Classic.

More

The stats don't lie
The situation: Bases loaded, one out, top of the second inning. Jimmy Rollins hits a fly ball to medium center field.


Watch the play
800K
The decision: Against the call of third-base coach Steve Smith, Shane Victorino decided to test the throwing arm of B.J. Upton, who recorded 16 outfield assists in 2008.

The outcome: Upton showed off his very impressive arm, gunning down the speedy Victorino at the plate by a fairly good margin and ending the inning.

The analysis: There was no need to be so aggressive at that juncture. It's no secret that Upton has a ridiculous arm, and the ball just wasn't that deep. Moreover, the Phillies had Jayson Werth and Chase Utley waiting to bat, so it's not as though they didn't have another chance to get Victorino home.

The comments: "It was part miscommunication. I heard, 'Go.' He [Smith] said, 'No.' But it turned out, it was a play that I'm out. He made a great throw. H's got a great arm. I don't know why I tried to test him there. Miscommunication. But we got the win." -- Victorino

"I'm so glad we won that game, because that would have been a big play. He was three or four steps off the bag and I yelled, 'Tag.' The crowd was big, and I yelled, 'No, no, no.' I thought he was faking it and all of a sudden, there he goes. It was still close. I thought he did it on his own." -- Smith

Conceding the run
The situation: Top of the fourth inning, one out, Phillies leading, 2-0. Runners on second and third for light-hitting catcher Carlos Ruiz.


Watch the play
800K
The decision: Maddon did not bring his infield in.

The outcome: Ruiz hit a grounder to shortstop for the second out, bringing home the run that eventually secured the win for Philadelphia.

The analysis: Bringing the infield in would have been even more of a high-risk, high-reward proposition than usual, given the runner on second as well as third. However, that runner at second, Pedro Feliz, is far from a speedster, so there's no guarantee he scores from second on a single.

Still, with two runs already on the board for Cole Hamels, playing to prevent even one more run might have been the right call.

The comment: "They're [at] second and third. That makes a difference. If there's a runner on third base only, I would have brought the infield in. When you have two runners out there that could potentially score if the infield is drawn in, you don't like that nearly as much. So I mean, yes, it definitely would have been in had there been a runner on third base only. But once you get second and third, and you draw it in, the potential for two runs scoring is not nearly attractive." -- Maddon

Enough is enough
The situation: To start the bottom of the eighth, the Rays bring up their 9-1-2 hitters in a 3-2 game. Hamels has pitched seven strong innings on 102 pitches and has not allowed a hit or walk since the fifth.


Watch the play
800K
The decision: Manuel got Hamels out of the game, going to setup man Ryan Madson for the entire eighth.

The outcome: Madson breezed through a perfect eighth, and Brad Lidge cruised in the ninth.

The analysis: Hamels looked to be getting stronger, and his pitch count was low. But the only part of the Rays order that had consistently given him trouble was the 9-1 combo of Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura, so Manuel didn't want to see those matchups again.

The comment: "He had walked [Bartlett] twice, and the leadoff there [Iwamura] had three hits on him, and he was getting about that time. He had 102 pitches. And I wanted to put Madson, who has been throwing real good, on those guys. But also, Madson, I would have used him in the eighth inning. But the big reason was because of who was leading off [the inning] and also the leadoff hitter [Iwamura]." -- Manuel

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less