I don't understand Ron Washington's thinking tonight.
After 5 innings, the game is tied at 7. Three of the next four Mariners hitters are lefties.
Ron Washington brings in Wes Littleton, who is much more effective against righties than lefties (733 career OPS against vs. 444 career OPS against).
Littleton retires the first two lefties, and then Mike Hargrove sends Ben Broussard, another lefty, up to pinch hit for Jose Guillen. Littleton gets him out, too.
The Rangers then rally in the top of the 7th to take a one run lead.
To start the bottom of the 7th, Washington pulls Littleton for C.J. Wilson. Wilson faces one batter, the lefty-hitting Raul Ibanez, and then yanks Wilson for Joaquin Benoit. Benoit allows a homer to Sexson, a hard hit single, and then what should have been a homer to Adrian Beltre.
Here's what I don't get...Wilson is your only lefty in the pen. The M's have a bunch of lefties at the top of their lineup. Why burn your only lefty to use against just one batter?
And if you want to use Wilson in that situation, why put Littleton in the game in the 6th at all? With a tie score in the 6th, and lefties coming up, why not put in Wilson then, and let him go against the 1-2-3-4 hitters, three of them lefties? Why only put him in with the lead, and then for just one batter?
This was simply overmanaging. Either you leave Littleton out there for the 6th and 7th, or else you bring in Wilson for the 6th, and then go get Benoit or Littleton after Ibanez. If you aren't going to bring Wilson in to face multiple lefties in the 6th with a tie score, it is asinine to bring him in to face just one lefty in the 7th with a one run lead.
It is as if Washington wasn't going to commit to using his "good" relievers without a lead...if it is a tie game, he's going to run Littleton and Frankie Francisco and Willie Eyre out there. But as soon as the Rangers take the lead, he has to go with the pitchers in their assigned "roles", with Wilson facing the lefty, Benoit handling the 7th, Otsuka the 8th, and Gagne the 9th.
The constant switching back and forth not only wears out the pen faster, and leaves you short-handed if you end up going into extra innings, but it also increases the risk of getting stuck with a guy out there (like Benoit today) who didn't have his good stuff.