Half the battle during playoff baseball is knowing which players to pitch around and which to attack. Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell mixed up the two today, costing his team a chance to win Game 1 of their series.
The Braves and Reds were putting on a pitching clinic this afternoon at Truist Park, as the opening game of the series went into extra innings.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the 13th inning, the Braves had runners on the corner with one man out and Freddie Freeman at the plate. Even though second base was open, Bell allowed Amir Garrett to pitch to the four-time All-Star.
Freeman made Bell pay for that decision, as he delivered for the Braves with a walk-off single to center field.
Shortly after Freeman’s walk-off single, a plethora of baseball analysts and fans went on social media to question Bell’s coaching strategy in the 13th inning. It didn’t make any sense to pitch to the hottest hitter in baseball, especially with the game on the line.
David Bell is a dope. Waking Freeman with a base open was a no brainer.
— Dave Cokin (@davecokin) September 30, 2020
Freeman had a .341 batting average, 13 home runs and 53 RBI in a shortened season for the Braves. He’s the type of player the Reds should be pitching around during a crucial at-bat.
If the Reds intentionally walked Freeman, it would’ve brought Marcell Ozuna to the plate. While he’s certainly an elite hitter in his own right, it’s just odd to see a team actually go after Freeman in crunch time.
Cincinnati will try to bounce back against Atlanta tomorrow afternoon. First pitch for Game 2 is at 12:08 p.m. ET.