1. Dusty Baker
Making the move to insert Diaz into the lineup in the 10th wasn’t the only move that didn’t work well for Baker on Friday night.
Baker also chose to leave Justin Verlander in the game to finish the fifth inning, one of two final frames thrown by the right-hander that ended up changing the course of the contest.
After being perfect through three innings, Verlander threw 31 pitches in the fourth inning, where the Phillies started finding their rhythm at the plate as Nick Castellanos launched an RBI single and Alec Bohm followed with a two-run double.
“I mean, we were in the same boat that they were in,” Baker said. “You could say, how come they didn’t take [starter Aaron] Nola out earlier? You know, it’s hard to take Justin out because he can struggle for a while, but he usually gets it back together. You don’t want to just go through your whole bullpen that early in the game.”
It’s true that the Astros got to Nola early, but that was primarily through two long balls off the bat of Kyle Tucker. After the third inning (where Tucker sent his second homer of the night out to right field), Nola settled in, allowing the Phillies bullpen to take over. The same can’t be said of Verlander, who was strong early, but dramatically faded in his final two innings.
Could a shorter leash on Verlander have changed the outcome? It’s possible, but we’ll see how Baker handles his ace if he gets another chance to pitch in Game 5.