Little's Great Move

Dodgers manager Grady Little made a terrific move in the 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night. He pinch hit for the pitcher with two on, two out in the fifth inning with the Dodgers trailing 3-2. Pinch hitter Wilson Betemit then repaid Little and the Dodgers with a three run homer and the three runs were just enough for a win.

Few big league (or any other) managers pinch hit this early in a game, preferring to wait until the 8th or 9th inning. Had Little followed the usual pattern, the outcome might have and probably would have been different.

Little figured the most he was going to get out of pitcher Randy Wolf in the fifth was one more inning. The Dodgers bullpen has been pitching lights out all year. So he seized the opportunity to score more runs and then turn to his strength right then and there. He was right all around.

Baseball's traditional strategies have often confused us and foregoing early opportunities for late (and maybe never to come) chances is one of those things we do not always embrace.

Last year, Little would in mid-game turn to Brett Tomko as long man. It would seldom work. This year, when Little has decided the odds of a rebound were slim, so he has on a number of occasions thrown in the towel and pulled his regulars out of a game he figured would probably be lost (which we dislike)(at least unless fans get a partial rebate for a partial game).

So Little has exhibited in different ways his tendency to do something different in mid-game. This time, his move was great.

Betemit's pinch hitting heroics - three homers and a double - on a power short squad may have helped spell the end of the Dodgers career for infielder Wilson Valdez. With Ramon Martinez around and going with only 13 field position players, Betemit's sudden re-discovery of his stroke made carrying both Martinez and Valdez a luxury the Dodgers could not afford.