One of those ingredients must be getting his starting pitcher through five innings at any and all costs. Yesterday afternoon/evening, he sent Aaron Harang back out to the mound to finish the fifth inning after a rain delay that lasted more than two hours. Harang only pitched to one batter after the delay and recorded a strikeout of Humberto Quintero to qualify for the win.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay posted Baker's reasoning on his blog last night:
"I'm just glad the delay wasn't any longer," Baker said. "He wanted it badly. He wanted very badly."I get that Baker wanted to show faith in one of his veterans, but Harang threw 83 pitches before the delay, then kept throwing through the delay to stay loose, then had to warm up again when the game re-started, and finally, he needed eight pitches to strike out Quintero, at which point he was shelved for the night.
Baker felt the risk was minimal.
"As long as kept throwing," Baker said. "There's a risk every time a guy goes out there. We were concerned. He wanted the game and he deserved a chance to go get that."
Baker might have felt the risk was minimal, but I'm not sure anyone in their right mind would agree with him. He put a ton of extra and unnecessary stress on the arm of one of his best pitchers, just so that pitcher could pick up a cosmetic counting stat that he "wanted badly." Of course, the Reds are only 2 1/2 games out of first place, so hey, here's to baseball alchemy.
Somewhere, Mark Prior is screaming.