Chess Match: Middle management

Chess Match: Middle management

CHICAGO -- Saturday night's Diamondbacks-Cubs game remained close and tight all night, but the game turned most heavily in the middle innings. In the fourth and fifth, a sequence of events occurred that set the contest on its course and helped send Arizona to victory.

Going to the mattresses
The situation:
Rich Hill has struggled. After three innings of a 2-0 game, with runners on first and second and the top of the Arizona order coming to the plate, Piniella decides to go to his bullpen.


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The decision: Rather than entrusting a still-winnable game to a banished starter or the back of the bullpen, Piniella goes immediately to his most trusted relievers. Michael Wuertz comes in to get out of the fourth, and it's Carlos Marmol for the fifth.

The outcome: Wuertz walks the leadoff man and allows a run, but stops the bleeding after that. The Cubs get a run back in the fourth, and the game remains within reach for Chicago.

The analysis: "I felt fine going out there, mentally good, physically great. It was location of the pitches. I got hit around, I didn't execute the way I wanted to execute, and that's that." -- Hill

Leaving in Livan
The situation:
Two men on, two out, top of the fifth inning. Pitcher Livan Hernandez's spot in the batting order comes up.


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The decision: Melvin stays with Hernandez, rather than pinch-hitting, despite the fact that the right-hander has not been particularly sharp.

The outcome: Hernandez strikes out, and the Diamondbacks miss yet another chance to drive in runners from scoring position. The right-hander endures an extremely adventuresome next half-inning on the mound, but escapes with a zero. Hernandez locks down after that, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth.

The analysis: "This time of the season, it can be a little bit more difficult to be patient at times, but up until a certain point in the game, unless we really look like his stuff just isn't there, we don't have better. He's done it so many times. He's been in this type of situation before and had an outstanding effort." -- Melvin

Letting the kid hit
The situation:
The first two runners reach base for the Diamondbacks in the fourth inning, and the Cubs go to Wuertz to face Chris Young.


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The decision: While bunting was an option, Melvin chose to let his young leadoff man hit.

The outcome: Young fell behind, 0-2, before working a walk. Two batters later, Eric Byrnes' groundout scored a run. Had Arizona bunted, Byrnes' play would have been the third out.

The analysis: "To watch Chris Young's walk after [being down in the count] 0-2, slider, slider, slider that he'd been struggling with, that was a pretty courageous at-bat right there. You can see it's almost day-to-day, you see some of these guys get experience and grow and mature as players in a short period of time." -- Melvin

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.