It was another "Fire Ned Yost Night" at Miller Park Wednesday. The Brewers' manager--in a must-win game after the Cubs lost to Florida earlier in the evening chose to prove how "tough" he is rather than focus on getting a "W".
Early in the game, Prince Fielder was hit by a high and inside pitch. It may have been in retaliation for pitch thrown up and in to the Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols during a blowout the night before. Both benches were warned about retaliation and the game went on. In the seventh inning--with one out and nobody on base--Yost brought in young reliever Scott McClung for one purpose...to hit Pujols with a pitch. McClung did as he was told--nailing Pujols with his first pitch. Both McClung and Yost were ejected immediately.
That started in motion another Brewer bullpen meltdown--with Derrick Turnbow loading the bases and walking in a run and Brian Shouse allowing three more runs to score--putting the game out of reach.
My question is: why is Ned Yost even thinking about "sending a message" in a game with so much riding on it? Does he even want to make the playoffs? You're already down a run in a must-win game and you're wasting a reliever (and taking yourself out of the game) to nail a guy with a pitch. Is that the top priority for a team fighting to make the playoffs? I think the Cardinals were more than happy to just play out the game--if we win great, if we lose no big deal. Instead, Ned nails their superstar and gets them fired up instead of just playing out the string.
Of course, Ned talked about having to protect his stars after the game, citing baseball's "unwritten rules". How about following one of the written rules: "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAMES!!!" Although, Ned has been ejected from three of the last four games--so maybe that is his strategy: get out of the dugout and give the team a chance to win. Just think if the Brewers kept the deficit at one then scratched out a win. How tight do you think the collars would be on the Cubs' jerseys tonight if their lead was just one game instead of two?
I had to laugh when I saw Brewers owner Mark Attanasio tell the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Ned's job is safe. His exact quote: "Ned is fine." That is why the Brewers haven't had a winning season in 14 years--a "Commitment to Fineness." Maybe the team should put that on a banner inside the stadium. That should get the fans fired up. And probably let an overmatched manager keep his job.