The Mets entered the ninth inning down 4-0 and facing Braves reliever Jordan Walden. Walden recorded only one out and put two men on base, giving way to closer Craig Kimbrel, who was now inheriting a save situation. Kimbrel got the second out of the inning, but then surrendered a two-run single to Juan Lagares to make it 4-2, and followed that up by allowing an RBI single to Travis d’Arnaud to make it 4-3 with runners on the corners.
Due up next for the Mets was shortstop Ruben Tejada. The night before, Tejada was a factor in all four Mets runs against the Braves, scoring two and driving in two. However, on this night, Tejada was 0-for-3. For his career, Tejada and Craig Kimbrel have only faced off twice, with Tejada failing to get a hit and striking out once.
The Mets had two options: let Tejada hit for himself, or use a pinch hitter. The preferred pinch hitter, Ike Davis, was used in the eighth to pinch hit, and the second option, Josh Satin, was also used earlier in the game. On the bench at the time, the Mets had Omar Quintanilla, Andrew Brown and Anthony Recker.
Had I been placed in Terry Collins’s shoes, here’s how it would’ve ran through my head. I wouldn’t want to use Recker in that situation, since contact is what I’m looking for and Recker propensity to strike out would be worrisome. If I pinch-hit for Tejada, Quintanilla would have to enter the game eventually to replace him, but do I want him up with the game on the line? In my head, I would want Brown to be up instead of either Quintanilla or Tejada. If I’m going to have a righty vs. righty match-up with Kimbrel, I want someone that’s a proven commodity off the bench. Brown has only faced Kimbrel one other time in his career, and it resulted in an out.
Collins instead chose to stick with Tejada, who would eventually strike out to end the game. This could all be splitting hairs, considering the quality of pitcher Kimbrel is and Andrew Brown could’ve easily done the exact same thing. However, in that isolated situation, Brown would’ve served as the better option. Had Brown gotten a hit, Quintanilla would’ve pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot in the order, again since he’s entering the game anyway to replace Tejada’s glove.
I’m interested in hearing how other backseat coaches would’ve managed that game. To me, it seems as though Collins stuck with the wrong batter.