Oh, sweet irony. Entering tonights NLDS Game 4 between the Dodgers and Braves is was Don Mattingly being openly questioned for his decision to start Clayton Kershaw on short rest. By the time the game was over, it was Fredi Gonzalez subjected to an intense line of second-guessing.
Things were had been shaping up so nicely for Atlanta, too. Starter Freddy Garcia, who inspired confidence in exactly nobody entering this game, survived two early solo homers from Carl Crawford, to give the Braves a solid start. Adrian Gonzalez then obliged them by uncharacteristically committing two errors to allow Atlanta to tie the game. After six innings, both starters were out of the game and the score was tied. Given the scenario, the Braves couldn't ask for much more.
Then Fredi Gonzalez went and got himself in trouble.
After Jose Constanze set himself up to be an unlikely hero by breaking the tie with an RBI single off of Ronald Belisario in the seventh, the Braves and their vaunted bullpen had the Dodgers right where they wanted them, or so it seemed. One would think that with Craig Kimbrel having not pitched since Friday and with an off day between Games 4 and 5, the situation was ideal to let Craig Kimbrel, the best closer in baseball, to go for a two inning save. While it was not a workload that Kimbrel was accustomed to, one could hardly blame Fredi Gonzalez for making sure he didn't lose this elimination game without ever using his best reliever.
What one could blame Gonzalez for is what he actually ended up doing. Instead of calling on Kimbrel for an extra inning of work, he went with David Carpenter who served up a leadoff double to Yasiel Puig and followed that up by hanging a letter-high breaking ball that Juan Uribe stepped all over for a go-ahead two-run homer. As for Kimbrel, he was left solemnly standing on the bullpen mound waiting for a call that would never come.
Ironically, Don Mattingly tried his best to save Gonzalez from that cruel fate having ordered Juan Uribe to lay down a sacrifice bunt, only Uribe tried and failed twice to get the bunt down. But nobody will be criticizing Mattingly for that aborted bad decision now, not as he awaits the winner of the Cardinals-Pirates series in the NLCS and likely a contract extension from Dodger ownership as well.