WASHINGTON -- For the greater good, sometimes managers are forced to make unpopular decisions. That was the case on Friday night when Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts pulled Ross Stripling after 7 1/3 innings, denying the rookie the opportunity to continue a no-hitter bid against the Giants at AT&T Park.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who spent the previous five seasons managing the Dodgers, agreed with the controversial call for several reasons -- the time of year and the fact Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014.
"Early games, and this is a guy coming off Tommy John," Mattingly said Saturday. "I would have had to do it too, I think."
Stripling exited after 100 pitches, and immediately after he was replaced, former Marlins reliever Chris Hatcher surrendered a two-run homer to Trevor Brown, which tied the score. San Francisco went on to win 3-2 in 10 innings.
But the issue of pulling a starter who is pursuing a no-hitter is something all managers may eventually deal with. In Stripling's case, he was at 100 pitches.
"I think you've just got to take that off the table for guys early in the season," Mattingly said. "A lot of times, it's hard to let a guy do that [go the distance]. I think if it's later in the year, and the guy has innings under his belt, and it's a different time in the season, he'd probably let him go, I don't know.
"I think guys understand, first game of the year, you wouldn't let [Clayton] Kershaw go much further than that -- a guy that's been around. And this is a guy coming off Tommy John. I think, you've got a long season, and starters, you've got to protect them as much as you can."
Mattingly added that on Opening Day, the Marlins were being no-hit by Detroit's Justin Verlander through five innings, which probably made Tigers manager Brad Ausmus wonder what to do. But with one out in the sixth, the bid ended on Dee Gordon's double.
"I was thinking about it the other day," Mattingly said. "Verlander has got the no-hitter going in the sixth, and Ausmus, he's probably over there thinking, 'There is no way I can let this guy go to 125 [pitches] the first time out. I've got a long season.'"
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.