Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Manny Acta's great day

     Monday was one of Manny Acta's best days as the Indians' manager. The Indians were playing the Chicago White Sox, a division rival, in a doubleheader, and Acta decided before the games began that he wasn't going to use his two best relievers, no matter what. Acta decided that Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano had both been used heavily over the weekend and needed a day off.

     It's easy to say you're going to give your two top relievers a day off, but when it gets to crunch time _ and the Indians were faced with crunch times in both games of the doubleheader _ it's another thing entirely to stick to that decision.

     The Indians won both games, by the scores of 8-6 and 3-2. Both games required the use of the bullpen, and both required a reliever to get the final outs and record the save. Acta resisted what had to be a powerful urge to use Perez and Pestano. When you get to within three outs of winning the game it's hard not to put your best relievers in the game, but that's what Acta resisted that temptation.

     The gamble paid off because the Indians' short-handed bullpen was able to close out both games as victories for the Tribe. It was the kind of managing that is easy to overlook, especially since the Indians won both games. If the Indians lost both games, Acta probably would have taken a lot of heat for not using his two best relievers.

     Managers get paid to win games, but they also get paid to consider the big picture. And Acta felt there was still too much season left to play for him to risk over-working two key relievers, even if it was a doubleheader against a division rival.

     Sticking to your principles while in the heat of battle is not easy. Acta was ready to concede those two battles in order to win the war. But in showing admirable leadership and forsight Acta wound up winning the battles, and keeping the Indians in good shape in their attempt to win the war.

     Not all managers would have done that.

     Acta did, and for that he deserves credit.


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