For all the grief I and others heap upon Eric Wedge, he did a neat job of managing his resources last night. After Ryan Garko poked an opposite field single (and Garko's approach is not giving me the same Warm Fuzzies that Hafner's is: he got a hit, and looked pretty fortunate to do it), Wedge brought Mike Rouse in to pinch-run. He could do this because then Rouse could step in at third base while Casey Blake slid across the diamond to play first. This had several nice effects: it maximized the amount of time before Rouse would come to the plate, Rouse is roughly eight hundred sixty two times faster than Garko, and it didn't involve blowing the backup catcher or DH before the last inning (as Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner are the other credible first basemen on the team: Trot Nixon has taken some ground balls there, but is far from an experienced player there).
Rouse didn't score, but the defense and offense were set for the final frame. In fact, as Michaels made the last out, Josh Barfield in the "second leadoff slot" would lead off the ninth after going 2-for-3 up to that point.
Barfield didn't get on base, Grady Sizemore did, and Casey Blake did not. Blake did hit the ball pretty well, well enough to fool Sizemore, who was almost doubled off first base on the fly out to left. Victor then walked on four pitches, bring up Wedge's second nice move: bringing in Ben Francisco to pinch-run for the turtle-like Martinez. Now, I don't know if Ben Francisco is actually fast, but the very fact that he is neither Victor Martinez nor Ryan Garko automatically qualifies him as being a better choice for a baserunner. If the game goes to extra innings, obviously Shoppach will need to come in, but he's perfectly available at this point.
The decision bore fruit immediately, as Hafner's double to the wall was enough to score both runners. In my opinion, Martinez would not have scored. The fact that Francisco did took a lot of pressure off the rest of the offense.
And then after Peralta walked, the right-handed hitter Shoppach was available to face the known left-handed closer Embree in Rouse's spot. Had Shoppach been out, Hafner would have moved to first and we would have sacrificed the DH slot for the rest of extra innings, but that was a small price to pay for the hitting and running arrangements orchestrated by Wedge.
So what he did was pinch ran for the T....W....O.........S...L...O...W.....E....S......T Human beings playing pro sports, without burning the one position player that no manager ever uses too early (backup catcher), all while costing yourself a DH if the game goes extra innings.
For all the times we hear people are blasting Wedge because of hindsight of a decision that did not work, had Kelly made an out, Wedge would be getting crucified today.
Decisions - Solid baseball moves with a touch of chance (better than doing nothing)
Results - Fantabulous
Wedge for Manager of the Day - Never.