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On this day, Joe Torre makes all the right moves

April 18, 2010 |  5:57 pm
Even though he's fifth on the all-time win list for managers, Joe Torre has come under his share of criticism for the Dodgers’ less-than-spectacular start.

Too in love with his bench. Can’t figure out his bullpen. An out-of-whack lineup. Misused his closer. Drinks the wrong kind of tea.

But he deserves a tip of the cap for the way he managed Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Giants.

Going again with three reserves in the lineup, his first decision almost backfired.

Clayton Kershaw, the ace in training, was allowed to pitch into the eighth. This despite a 26-pitch seventh inning when he surrendered his only run on a homer to Juan Uribe.

Kershaw, 22, has been handled with kid gloves, Torre careful not to extend him at young age.

But Torre allowed him to start the eighth. When he quickly walked leadoff hitter Eugenio Velez, Torre went to the bullpen.

Now came a series of moves. Jeff Weaver played the smallest of roles. Edgar Renteria’s bunt sacrificed Velez to second, which immediately took the bat away from San Francisco’s best hitter, Pablo Sandoval.

Weaver intentionally walked Sandoval. Struggling left-hander George Sherrill (12.46 ERA) was summoned to face left-handed-hitting Aubrey Huff. Sherrill fell behind 3-0, but got Huff to pop up.

"He’s going to be all right," Torre said. "But that was certainly a big step for him, especially in the situation he was in. Bases loaded right there, that’s not a comfort spot for us."

Next Torre called on Ramon Troncoso, who promptly hit Bengie Molina with a pitch to load the bases. Troncoso induced Uribe to hit into a fielder’s choice, and the Dodgers had escaped.

"You get to that point of the game and you have to start matching up," Torre said.

Then with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Torre made what appeared to be an odd decision. He called on left-hitting Garret Anderson to pinch hit against left-hander Barry Zito.

Only Torre knew Anderson’s numbers. For a left-handed hitter, he hits left-handers very well (.290). And he hits Zito particularly well (.328).

"Garret has had some success against Zito, and keeps his poise up there," Torre said.

Anderson worked the count full and then walked.

Torre had Manny Ramirez pinch hit, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy summoned right-hander Sergio Romo.

Ramirez deposited a 1-2 Romo slider into the left-field pavilion, and the Dodgers had a 2-1 victory.

Torre was relieved about the home run for more than one reason.

"I was pretty happy because I was trying to figure out what I would do if (Ramirez) got on first base," he said. "That was the trick because you’d have to run for him, and I was trying to get volunteers. I didn’t want to necessarily use (James) Loney. I’m glad I didn’t have to make that decision."

On this afternoon, the decisions were all working, even those he didn’t have to make.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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