I wish I was at Petco Park yesterday in between the bottom of the eighth and the top of the ninth when San Diego Padre ace Jake Peavy returned to the mound for an attempt at a complete-game victory. I would have eventually witnessed the season's first complete-game victory, let alone a much-needed San Diego victory over the National League's best team and fierce rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. It sure would have been great to be there for the third and final out assuring San Diego the 4-1 win, and for the moment the NL West lead by a half game over L.A.
But what I also missed even before the Peavy threw the first pitches of that ninth inning was what the media has failed to acknowledge and lend credit to at least every where I have looked this Sunday morning. This was a huge, huge gamble by Padre manager Bud Black. And it paid off. How many other managers at this point in the season would have opted to send out their ace nearing a pitch count of 120 for a complete game effort, facing a division rival with a batting order certainly capable of doing damage? How many managers would have done this with a bullpen led by the all-time career saves leader in Trevor Hoffman who was fresh after a night off on Friday, as well as the guy who some argue should replace Hoffman in that spot, Heath Bell? That is quite a gutsy decision to make and had it turned out the other way, Black would be second-guessed right now with no doubt. But Bud Black went for it, and believed in Jake Peavy (not too bad a guy to believe in). Peavy finished the day with 8 Ks, his first earned run of the year, and one walk - interestingly enough coming in the top of the ninth to add to the dice rolling drama.
So add this to the list of "firsts" for the 2008 season. Bud Black made the "First Managerial Big Gamble" of the season. And it paid off quite well.