After last night’s game, the skipper was asked about his decision to call the recently-promoted Rocco Baldelli back from the on-deck circle so Brad Hawpe could face left Scott Downs with the bases loaded and two outs.
His answer? He wanted Hawpe in that spot all along but sent Rocco onto the on-deck circle in an attempt to convince Downs to pitch to the red-hot Sean Rodriguez (who was a 2B shy of the cycle) rather than give Rodriguez a free pass.
Of course, that answer begs the question, why let Hawpe bat in that spot? Not only is Hawpe significantly worse against port-siders (.244/.322/.436/.758 career vs. LHP and .290/.387/.507/.894 vs. RHP), he already had picked up a hat trick in his first three at-bats and was headed towards the golden sombrero. Isn’t this the exact spot we added a right-handed bat like Rocco to fill?
Well. I owe Maddon an apology (for the choice words included in my reaction to his decision in real time). Hawpe had reached base three times (2 BB/1HBP) in his four career plate appearances against Downs while Rocco was 0-4 with a strikeout.
Still. That felt like the setup for a movie-moment. Rock, returning to the Trop, steps in, with the bases loaded, in a crucial game, and smokes a ball into section 143. Right?