Torre’s mistakes bigger than Mattingly’s gaffe

June 27, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Joe Torre of the Dodgers argues with third base umpire Jerry Crawford after a strike call by home plate umpire Chris Guccione on Garrett Anderson during the Major League Baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Yankees defeated the Dodgers, 8-6, in 10 innings..Josh Thompson/CSM.

Lost in the double mound visit gaffe by Don Mattingly in the Dodgers’ embarrassing 7-5 loss to the Giants on Tuesday night was a series of horrendous decisions by L.A. skipper Joe Torre earlier in the night.

Tim Lincecum sent the Dodgers’ bench into a tizzy after he hit Matt Kemp with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Then reliever Denny Bautista really pissed off L.A. when he threw one high and tight to catcher Russell Martin in the bottom of the sixth (which led to L.A. bench coach Bob Schaefer being ejected after he started screaming at home plate umpire Adrian Johnson).

In trying to send a message to the Giants that he wasn’t going to take all of their shenanigans, Torre sent his starter Clayton Kershaw (who had already thrown over 100 pitches and was starting to get beaten like a piñata) up to the plate following Martin’s fly out to left. Mind you that at this point, the Giants had all but erased the Dodgers’ four-run lead and it was now a one-run game at 5-4. Kershaw promptly struck out swinging, as did Rafael Furcal to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh, Torre’s intentions were made clear when Kershaw threw his first pitch of the inning right into Aaron Rowand’s thigh. Johnson, who had warned both benches after Lincecum had beaned Kemp, then ejected Kershaw and Torre as Rowand took his base.

On the surface, it appeared that Torre was just making a point that the Dodgers weren’t going to back down from their biggest rival in their home park. But when you stand back and look at the situation on a whole, it was one of the dumbest moves by a manager this season.

Let’s review:

– Torre essentially wasted an out by batting Kershaw late in a one-run game.
– Rowand, the player that Kershaw drilled, is hitting .238 this year with an on-base percentage of .288. Nevertheless, the Dodgers didn’t pick the greatest hitter to bean.
– By hitting Rowand, the Dodgers put the tying runner on base with no outs.
– With Kershaw ejected, Hong Chih Kuo had to pitch multiple innings to compensate.

Granted, Kuo retired the side without giving up a run, so in the end the move didn’t look as bad. However, because Kershaw hit Rowand, Torre was ejected from the game, which put Mattingly in charge and what subsequently led to the mound mistake in the ninth inning.

Plus, what happens if Kershaw is suspended because he intentionally hit Rowand after the umpire had warned both sides about throwing at players? What if he has to miss a start because of this? Was it worth it for Torre to send a message to the Giants in that moment?

If he wanted to prove a point, he could have waited until tonight to demand that one of his pitchers put one between a hitter’s shoulder blades. And it wouldn’t be Rowand getting plunked, it would be Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, Pablo Sandoval or someone that actually has an impact for the Giants.

At least Mattingly’s mistake was an accident. Torre actually thought about his decisions before making them.

Update: Kershaw was suspended five games and Torre for one, which makes the skipper’s decisions even dumber in my opinion.

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