Baltimore Orioles beat writer Jon Meoli talks about Orioles manager Buck Showalter's decision to not use closer Zach Britton in a save situation. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was grilled heavily during Tuesday night's postgame press conference because he never used baseball's best relief pitcher in his team's 11-inning wild-card loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
It seems like an easy second-guess. Ubaldo Jimenez is no relief pitcher and Zach Britton might have extended the game for another inning or two, so Showalter took his medicine from the national media. Whether he deserved it or not depends on how you view the game strategy.
In retrospect, Britton would certainly have been a better choice to face Edwin Encarnacion, whose three-run walk-off homer ended the Orioles' season. But the way the game was playing out, Showalter chose to stay with the guy who had totally stifled the Blue Jays five days earlier, hoping he would get another in a series of clutch double plays that had bailed the Orioles out of three previous jams.
Obviously, he was playing for several more innings with Jays alternate starter Francisco Liriano in the game and handcuffing an Orioles lineup that had not had a hit since the sixth inning.
Showalter would have faced the same second-guess if the Orioles had lost the game with Brad Brach and Darren O'Day on the mound in the ninth or 10th inning. It was simply a choice of using Britton before or after Jimenez and the outcome is what determined whether that was the right decision.
So, it was the wrong one, but I'll take issue with the TBS postgame analyst who called it the worst managerial decision he had ever seen. Showalter knew what he was doing and the risk he was taking, and he'll be able to live with that.
Pedro Martinez was less critical on the postgame show, choosing instead to question whether Showalter should have pitched to Encarnacion at all with second base open. Obviously, he was not aware of Jimenez's strikeout-to-walk ratio.