That time Mike Scioscia sat on his hands

In the middle of the season, it’s just another at-bat.

It’s the fifth inning and the Angels’ young starting pitcher, a pretty hot prospect actually, had struggled to locate his pitches in the fourth. But he’d escaped the jam and his team was still ahead 1-0.

But now it’s the fifth and the left-handed rookie is struggling again. He’s given up a single and a walk and a double and another walk and now a future Hall of Famer, who happens to bat right-handed, is coming up with the bases loaded.

In the middle of the season, you let the kid try to escape this jam, too. After all, he’s gotta learn sometime and anyway you can’t be going to the bullpen every time your starting pitcher’s struggling in the fifth.

Except Thursday night wasn’t the middle of the season. Thursday night was very nearly a playoff game for the Angels. Lose, and they’re four games out of first place with three games to play; win, and they’re only two games down. Still a problem, but then there’s also that second wild card, and the Twins and the Astros.

So it’s not a playoff game, but it’s certainly their biggest game of the season so far.

But Mike Scioscia, despite having a 12-man bullpen, managed just like he would in June, or July. He left Andrew Heaney in the game to face Adrian Beltre, and Beltre yanked a liner into left field for a three-run double. Which made the score 4-1, in a game the Angels wound up losing, 5-3.

Then Scioscia went to his bullpen.

I realize that it all happened very quickly, and that Heaney’s pitched well since coming up a few months ago. But I also think Scioscia should have managed this one like he was managing in the playoffs. Managing in the playoffs, that is, but with a 12-man bullpen. And he didn’t.