It's the easiest thing in the world to do. That doesn't mean it's wrong to do it. It's what we do as fans. It's part of the fun of being a fan, really. But we need to remember that it's always easy to say what the manager should've done when we have no responsibility for being wrong. Also, we really have no way to know if doing it our way would've been any better. We know what did happen--we have no way of knowing what would've happened if.
I bring this up because Paul Molitor made a number of pitching changes last night. Each one of them could be questioned. That's not to say they were wrong. It's just something that comes with the territory when you're a manager.
In the sixth, with the Twins leading 5-3, Tommy Milone walked Paulo Orlando with two out. Molitor then brought in Blaine Boyer to face Christian Colon. Milone was at 92 pitches, not a huge number but close to the mark of 100 at which pitchers are often removed from the game, especially in April. Milone had pitched well except for the home runs, but you can't just ignore the home runs, either, especially when one at this point would tie the score. Of course, Colon hasn't shown much power. Some would say that bringing in Blaine Boyer is never a good move, but he had only given up one hit and no runs in his last 5.1 innings (three appearances). This night, it didn't work out, as Colon doubled to make the score 5-4.
Aaron Thompson started the seventh with the score still 5-4. He retired the first two batters, then walked Eric Hosmer. Molitor then brought in Casey Fien to face Kendrys Morales. No platoon advantage was gained; in fact, throughout his career Morales, a switch-hitter, has better numbers against right-handers than left-handers. Fien does have more experience, which is not everything but is not nothing, either. Fien did not retire Morales, so the move did not work in that sense, but he got out of the inning without allowing any runs, and that is the point, really, so we can say that the move worked.
Fien was left in to start the eighth. He gave up a pair of singles, then retired the next two batters, leaving the score 5-5 with a man on third base. Molitor then brought in Glen Perkins to face Mike Moustakas. Fien had thrown 23 pitches at this point, which may be irrelevant but is more pitches than he would've thrown had he been brought in at the start of the eighth rather than finishing the seventh. It brought Perkins into the game in the middle of an inning, which he has rarely done since becoming the closer. I'm sure Perkins would not use that as an excuse, and it really isn't one, but at the same time it is different doing something you're not used to. A definite platoon advantage was gained, as Moustakas' numbers are significantly lower against left-handed pitchers. He didn't hit the ball all that well, but it was a base hit and brought home the go-ahead (and ultimately winning) run.
My point is not to say any of these moves was or was not right. After all, sometimes you make a move that's totally logical and sensible and it doesn't work out. Sometimes you make a move that's totally illogical and nonsensical and it does work out. That's how baseball is.
My point, rather, is to say that being a manager is not all that easy. It seems easy for fans, sometimes, because we don't have to live with the results if we're wrong. The actual manager does.
Some have said that the decision on when to change pitchers is the hardest thing to learn about managing a ball game. Paul Molitor, while an experienced baseball man, is still a rookie manager, and is still learning. In each case, there were reasons to make a move and reasons not to. But he couldn't just say that. He had to make a decision and live with the results, for good or for bad. And on this night, they were bad.
So we move on, trying to salvage one game out of the series. The Twins will go with Mike Pelfrey, which does not exactly inspire confidence. But Pelfrey did get by for five innings against Cleveland and the Twins won a game no reasonable person would've expected them to win. I believe it was Sherlock Holmes who pointed out that anything that has actually happened is, by definition, possible. So, it could happen again. Kansas City goes with veteran Jeremy Guthrie, an unspectacular pitcher who is an "innings-eater" and has pitched decently in his two starts this year other than giving up some home runs. Maybe the Twins can hit a few over the fence tonight. We'll just have to settle for 153-9!