When appropriate, the Stew will take a look at key points of postseason games to see if the right decision was made.
The Key Question: Should Joe Torre have left Lowe in the game to face Burrell after Utley's two-run blast had tied the game one batter earlier?
Reasons to yank him: Lowe had already run into a bit of trouble in the fifth inning, allowing two runners (including pitcher Cole Hamels) to reach base with two outs. Once Chase Utley homered — bringing home Shane Victorino, who reached on Rafael Furcal's throwing error to start the inning — it looked like Lowe might have reached the end of the road.
But the righthanded Lowe stayed in the game to face lefty Ryan Howard, most likely because the Philadelphia first baseman was only 2-of-16 lifetime against Lowe. That hunch was proven correct when Howard grounded out to first, but perhaps Burrell's recent success — he had two HRs in the NLDS clincher in Milwaukee — should have talked pitching coach Rick Honeycutt into reconsidering things, even if they were getting a good righty-right matchup.
Reasons to let him stay: Lowe, 5-0 with a 0.85 ERA in his previous seven starts, was only at 85 pitches when Burrell came up to bat and he had a full seven days' rest behind him. Burrell also had never homered off Lowe in 19 career ABs (though neither had Utley in 16). Also, while we cited the late trouble in the fifth inning as a reason to yank him, it should be noted that he got out of that situation, forcing a fly to left from Jimmy Rollins.
Hindsight is 20/20: The three Dodgers relievers who saw action allowed the Phillies only one hit over the final 2 2/3rds of an inning.
Quotables: "He was feeling fine. Just sometimes you get some misguided pitches and they stay up instead of where they're supposed to be ... Burrell's a good hitter. He's had a hell of a year. He just stayed with that pitch." — Torre on Lowe
"He looked like he always does. There was no thought to taking him out." — Torre
"Hindsight is what makes you not sleep at night." — Lowe
Stew verdict — The Decision Stands: It's easy to look at the success the Dodgers bullpen had the rest of the night, but with the score tied, no one aboard and Howard recently retired, Torre did the right thing by leaving Lowe in the game. If you have designs on reaching the World Series, it's reasonable to assume your Game 1 starter can go six innings. Plus, it's not like Lowe completely blew the game with an awful effort. He just threw one bad pitch that was magnified by the Dodgers' lack of offensive punch in the game's final innings.
What do you think? Did Torre make the right decision?