Terry Francona mind-boggler almost cost Cleveland Guardians 1st place

Cleveland Guardians (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Guardians (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Guardians’ battery saved their manager, Terry Francona, during Wednesday night’s thrilling 11-10 victory–but it shouldn’t have even come to this point.

Fresh off taking a one-run lead in the 7th inning, Terry Francona sent out Anthony Gose to begin the bottom of the frame. Gose got the out and was removed, having pitched two innings of great ball.

So, in a game with first place on the line, against a division rival, who does Tito give the ball too? Tuesday night hero, Trevor Stephan? No. Cribbage pal Bryan Shaw? It would’ve been a better call, but no. Antony Castro.

You knew it would be a rough going for the righty after the first guy he faced almost took him yard to left field. Steven Kwan made the catch on the warning track, but with one out to go, Minnesota inflicted their damage on Castro. Two straight hits culminated  in a three-run bomb by former Indian Gio Urshela, giving the Twins a 10-7 lead.

Sam Hentges came in relief for the 8th inning, making Tito’s decision even that more perplexing. The Guards and specifically, Oscar Gonzalez bailed his manager out, as Tito’s mismanagement likely won’t even resister with the casual fan. Heck, this MLB.com story doesn’t even mention Castro’s name!

Cleveland Guardians: Tito’s answer doesn’t really help

This is as good an explanation I could find that Tito gave after the game for his use of the bullpen, via Cleveland.com

"“It was difficult,” said Francona, when asked about running the pen Wednesday. “We actually had plans for Anthony (Castro) to go two innings tonight. Last night everybody who pitched in the game was up at least twice and Shaw was up three times.“I don’t want to hurt people. They would be willing to pitch, but you can’t do that. You hope that people who understand the game understand that.”"

Francona is a Hall of Fame manager. I’m happy he’s in the Guardians’ dugout. His ability to connect with people is what makes him great.

But had Cleveland lost, the defeat would’ve rested squarely on his shoulders. C’mon, if you’re Steven Kwan standing in left field and you see the skipper hand the ball to Castro after your mates just battled back for the lead, you know you’re whispering something under cover of your mitt.

As for Castro, I don’t want to give up on him, but that was not the time for him to pitch. That time would be when the Guards are down five in the eight and the hope is he won’t allow any more damage.

Next. No one should be surprised Guards are in first place. dark

We all love some Tito, but this unfolded pretty much the way we all knew it would. Thankfully, the results shook out Cleveland’s way.