Houston Astros: AJ Hinch should be questioned about not using Gerrit Cole

Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch made a gutsy call to pull Zack Greinke from the game after just completing 80 pitches. Why didn’t he use Gerrit Cole? Look.

Houston Astros fans — it’s Thursday morning and our team is not a two-time world champion.  They’re a runner-up, a consolation prize and now will be known as “the other team” in the 2019 World Series for years to come.

The Washington Nationals fought the Houston Astros toe-to-toe throughout this series with plenty of sweat, strain and tears to boot in what was a competitive bout.

Even though the Houston Astros lost out, they took the Nats to the brink and had them earn on their home field which is no easy feat.  Apparently that was for the Nats as neither home team in this series won a home game.

There’s likely some history to that and I’m sure a renowned baseball historian like Jayson Stark will point out to how unique that the home-field advantage didn’t matter in this series.

But it’s true and it all came down to just winning the game, no matter what the circumstances were and that’s what the Nats did.

They flipped that said home-field advantage, owned it and thrived while on the road.  In the same regard, the Houston Astros did as well but the Nats had to luxury of doing it better just one more game than they did.

I truly tip my hat off the Nats as they were the ultimate competitors and beat the Houston Astros fair and square.  They just wanted it just a tad more than our team and that’s quite understandable as it was a lot of those guys’ first — and possibly last for their vets like Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki — shot at a championship.

The game was in hand by the Houston Astros but a controversial move AJ Hinch made to get to his bullpen early will be something many in sports will ask for eons to come.

It was the top of the 7th and after a groundout by Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon homered off of Zack Greinke, putting the Nats on the board for the first time with the score being 2-1.

After Greinke walked Juan Soto and with Kendrick up to bat, Hinch decided to pull Greinke from the game with just 80 pitches under his belt.  I can understand that he thought that Zack was falling apart through 6.1 innings of work.

But what I don’t understand is why Hinch went to Will Harris, who had been pitching well but had given up some key homers in the series.

The next moment that occurred was that Harris was victimized by a two-run shot to right, putting the Nats up 3-2.

After a Asdrubal Cabrera single, Harris received the hook for Roberto Osuna, who walked Ryan Zimmerman and generated a flyout and a popout by Yan Gomes and Victor Robles respectively.

Things were looking good but after a Adam Eaton walk which led to a steal of 2nd base, Soto singled bringing Eaton home to put the Houston Astros up 4-2.

When the final blow was dealt after a Jake Marisnick error fielding Eaton’s single to center, the damage had been done with the score being 6-2 and the team being three outs away from winning the World Series.

It happened after George Springer popped out and then Jose Altuve as well as Michael Brantley striking out, sealing their fate in this battle.

With all what ensued after Greinke was pulled, why didn’t Hinch go straight to his ace in Gerrit

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Cole when so much was on the line?

His first start in the series was shaky but he rebounded in Game 5 where he had nine punch-outs, gave up a homer — the only run charged to him — and walked two in 7.0 innings of work.  Going off that line, there’s no question I would’ve went with Cole to try to finish that Nats’ lineup off.

I think his stuff would’ve been strong enough to get the job done and who knows if those awful change of events after going to Harris would’ve happened.

Hindsight is definitely 20/20 in this situation.

Hinch will be thinking about the decision for the rest of his career and he’ll have to continue to have to answer the question for the rest of his life.  It wasn’t easy but he made the best call the could, it wasn’t the right one but it was a decision that he owned up to fully.

Next. Astros: Hats off to the Nats for being true competitors. dark

But despite all what happened, he’s still a terrific manager, this loss will hurt for a while but they’ll be back in the trenches in 2020, hopefully with Cole in-tow with a new contract.

We’ll have to see about that — go Houston Astros!