Like a little blonde girl sampling porridge in a house where bears live, Ozzie Guillen changed pitchers like crazy against the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Josh Johnson went cold. Randy Choate and Steve Cishek came out too hot. Mike Dunn couldn't get out of the jam, either. No matter what Ozzie tried, he never got it just right for the Florida Marlins.
In the process, he and the Marlins committed a major-league first. Never before had a team walked four straight batters using four different pitchers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The walk-a-thon allowed the Mets to tie the score in the bottom of the seventh, and they later pushed across another run to win 2-1 in Jose Reyes' return to Citi Field.
Johnson was tossing a shutout, but has a history of arm problems and had thrown 102 pitches after he retired David Wright and walked Lucas Duda with two outs. It took more than 20 minutes for the Fish to get the final out of the inning. With several other left-handed hitters scheduled to bat, Guillen began his tactical wizardry:
"I wanted [Johnson] to face all the way to Wright," the manager said. "After Wright, they had all lefties. I wish I would have known we were going to walk four guys. We had a plan. We felt good about the plan. It doesn't [always] work. I didn't want to change the plan."
"The plan," he says. Nobody plans to use four different pitchers, but that's what happened against Duda, pinch-hitter Justin Turner, Scott Hairston (walked on four pitches) and Josh J.J. Thole. Not exactly Murderer's Row. More like Expunged Probation's Row. But, Ozzie's the manager and he can't affect the outcome of a ballgame unless he tries to affect the outcome of a ballgame. Hence, pitching change-o-rama.
The best part might have been the peanut gallery comments made by the Mets broadcasters, particularly Ron Darling, who let out phrases such as, "Good lord," and "It's a disgrace," and "This'll give you ulcers if you're a manager." He also said relief pitchers sometimes fall into a mental trap when following strong starting performances; Johnson and Johan Santana had both posted great pitching lines.
Darling: "I will tell you, if you're hesitant to throw strikes and you're a reliever in this game, you don't want to follow Santana and Johnson and their fine efforts."
Gary Cohen: "It's a little embarrassing."
Darling: "It is!"