Chess Match: Lilly lingers too long
D-backs never look back after building early advantage
PHOENIX -- Thursday night's Game 2 was decided early, as the Diamondbacks led by four runs in the fourth inning and the score never got closer than that. Would things have turned out differently if Ted Lilly had been pulled earlier? Perhaps, but there's no way to know, since Lilly stuck around to give up six runs in 3 1/3 innings.Lou lets Lilly linger
The situation: Chris Young hits a three-run homer in the second off of a clearly not-sharp Ted Lilly. The lefty hurls his glove to the ground in disgust.
The decision: Piniella stayed with Lilly, and not just for the remainder of the second. Lilly pitched the third, batted for himself with a runner on in the top of the fourth and faced the first four batters of the bottom of the fourth.The outcome: Lilly permitted three more runs, turning a 3-2 game into a 6-2 game. An infield single and a two-out Eric Byrnes triple made it 4-2 in the second. In the fourth, another infield single, a walk and another triple stretched the lead out, and Lilly was finally removed. Reliever Kevin Hart struck out the first two batters he faced, ending the threat. The analysis: "Lilly gave it his best out there, it just didn't work out for him today." -- Piniella Putting one down
The situation: Holding a five-run lead in the fifth inning, the pitcher's spot comes up for Arizona with runners on first and third.
The decision: Doug Davis stays in the game and puts down a squeeze bunt.The outcome: It turned out even better than expected. Not only does the squeeze work, scoring Justin Upton from third base, but Davis reaches base on the play. The analysis: "I wanted to keep Doug in the game. It's a little bit more of a safety than an actual [squeeze]. We want Upton to get down the line and read it. Doug made a good bunt and Justin followed it in there, so it ended up being a big play. [It] enabled us to keep Doug in the game and get an RBI." -- Melvin Hola, Jose
The situation: Arizona leads, 8-4, going into the ninth inning.
The decision: Jose Valverde runs out from the bullpen to protect the lead. Melvin managed the four-run lead just as he would have a one- or two-run advantage, relying on his three back-of-the-bullpen men in Juan Cruz, Brandon Lyon and Valverde.The outcome: The Cubs made it interesting, with a base hit and another man reaching on an error. But Valverde fanned Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez with two men on to end the game.
The analysis: "[There's] no such thing as a save really in a postseason game. We went through our sixth, seventh, eighth [inning] guys, and he's got to follow it up. For him to be able to respond to the little miscue at second base, keep his head up and keep pitching ... That's something in the postseason that's kind of wiped out. You see a lot of closers during the season that they're not the same guy with a four-run lead, but you have to [be] in the postseason." -- Melvin
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.