Rarely has a manager been on such a "hot streak". Use of Jim Miller aside -- and I blame Melvin's superiors for Miller being on the roster because a manager has to choose from the guys he has and can't turn to two good relievers every day -- not only has Melvin made all the right calls lately, IMO, but some of the gutsy and questionable moves he has made have paid off in spades.
Last night I loved the way Melvin played it from batter to batter. My main quibble with Newbob has been a slight over-tendency to bunt with a runner at 1B and nobody out. In the 8th inning I feared he would ask Crisp to sacrifice but he let Coco swing away. Then with 1B and 2B, he had Weeks bunt, a move I fully endorsed because not only could Weeks potentially beat it out (which nearly came to pass) but I like the "pick your poison" choice of pitching to Reddick with the tying run at 3B and lead run at 2B, with one out, or pitching to Cespedes with the bases loaded. It didn't work out, but it was correctly managed, I thought.
Then in the 9th, Melvin lets Carter bat, showing the same confidence he showed Derek Norris in the Giants game. I was pleased to see Brandon Moss in the on deck circle to hit for Kurt Suzuki, figuring that if Cliff Pennington got out there would be a runner at 1B and two out, and it would be a good chance to "go for it," feast or famine style, in search of the walk-off HR. I was less sure when Pennington singled -- now you really just wanted a hit and Moss isn't really a "high average hitter". But given the opportunity by Melvin, Moss rewarded his manager's faith smoking a single up the middle. Repeatedly, Melvin has shown confidence in players without a track record -- Norris, Carter, Moss -- and has been handsomely rewarded. Don't underestimate the importance to these guys' development that the manager showed that confidence in them, and correctly gauged that they could succeed.
Which brings me to 1B. Was anyone really on board with the notion of a platoon? Surely you thought one or the other of Carter and Moss shouldn't be in the mix at all, didn't like the refusal to commit to just one of them, didn't see how it could possibly play out as a win-win for both. So Oakland's 1Bmen have now HRed in 4 consecutive games, then combined for 3 hits, two of them hugely clutch to stun the Red Sox.
Usually a manager's tactical moves are like an umpire's calls: If he's doing it right you don't really notice, and if you notice him it's because he's getting it wrong. Right now, Melvin is in a rare position for a manager: We're noticing his moves and it's because he's getting it right. Rock on, Newbob.
See you at 1pm for MOAR A.J. GRIFFIN!