After Mike saw his Reds just gift-wrap a win to the Phillies, the Braves followed suit in Game 3 of the NLDS and yes, I blame Bobby Cox.
Brooks Conrad is now the most hated man in Atlanta after he committed three errors and allowed the Giants to win the game 3-2 over a Braves team that had just taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth on an awesome line drive HR from Eric Hinske. I haven't been so elated in a long time. My hands were numb from clapping after that hit. The only problem is that Billy Wagner is hurt and they would have to use an unproven guy to close out the game. In comes Craig Kimbrel.
Kimbrel got a fly out on Cody Ross, then walked Travis Ishikawa, then struck out Andres Torres. With two outs, Kimbrel got Freddy Sanchez to swing at two pitches out of the zone and then inexplicably threw him a fastball down the middle on a 1-2 count. Sanchez singles, and up comes Aubrey Huff. Now, even though Aubrey Huff hits left-handers better than right-handers, Bobby Cox played the universal percentages and put in lefty Mike Dunn. Bad move. Huff singled, of course on a pitch he was fooled on, hitting a flair to right field in front of Jason Heyward. Tie game. Then Cox puts in Peter Moylan, who gets the ground ball he wants, but oh, if only Brooks Conrad weren't there to field it. It goes under his glove. Giants take the lead and an undeserved win after Brian Wilson comes in to close it out. And by the way, this patient approach Braves batters have has become a thorn in my side. Jason Heyward allowed a pitch that should have been hit in the stands to just go harmlessly by. And this happens too often.
But the Cox pitching change isn't what lost this game. It's the insistence to play Brooks Conrad that lost this game. I have never seen a man so loved during the season become such a hated person in such a short time. And it's not his fault, in my opinion. When a person becomes a liability in the field, and has made so many bad errors (he made a few that nearly cost the Braves a chance at the postseason), then it is the responsibility of the manager to pull that guy out of the starting lineup. Braves fans like Brooks Conrad when he's up late in the game and can possibly give you a nice pinch-hit HR or something (see the Reds game earlier in the year with the pinch-hit game-winning grand slam). He was never meant to be a guy out there in the field.
So what does Bobby Cox need to do? Seriously, is Troy Glaus that bad of a defender? Glaus should be at third and Omar Infante, who was placed at third when Conrad had fielding issues there, should be back at second where he is more comfortable. Glaus bailed out the Braves with a beautiful double play in Game 2 that if, unturned, would have lost the game. Plus, Glaus, as much as he struggled towards the end of the year, is a better bat. YOU CANNOT DO WORSE THAN THIS. Someone tackle Bobby Cox and explain this. YOU CANNOT DO WORSE THAN CONRAD. If Troy Glaus goes out there and makes three errors, no one will be hoping Brooks Conrad could have been in the game. Hell, I'll take the young Diory Hernandez if Troy Glaus can't go.
Cox will need to make this change because now, they're down 2-1 and the season is completely on the line. And Conrad can not be allowed to play in the field the rest of the playoffs. If he is allowed to play any more positions, this final season's destiny rests in Cox's hands and is his fault.
I was so excited after that Hinske HR. So excited. I can't tell you how hard of a crash that was when it fell apart.