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Chess Match: Free pass pays off

Chess Match: Free pass pays off

PHOENIX -- In a one-run game, managerial moves can be difference makers, and Colorado's Clint Hurdle and Arizona's Bob Melvin made a few that shaped the complexion of Game 2.

Hurdle, however, made perhaps the best move of the night by ordering Tony Clark walked in the fifth, as once again the Rockies skipper seemed to push all the right buttons and the Rockies went ahead 2-0 in the series.

Point of attack
The situation: Two out, bottom of the fifth, Chris Young on third, Stephen Drew on second.

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The decision: After Ubaldo Jimenez falls behind 2-0 on Arizona first baseman Tony Clark, Hurdle orders Clark intentionally walked to load the bases.

The outcome: Jimenez fans Mark Reynolds on three pitches to end the threat.

The analysis: Once Jimenez's wild pitch advanced the runners and left first base open, it only made sense to put Clark on. Clark, 2-for-2 at the time, had hit the ball hard in both at-bats, while Reynolds has been struggling.

"He pitched around some traffic. But he hung in there. He's got a lot of confidence, plus he's got good stuff. And he can always get back in the count when he's behind in the count."
-- Hurdle

Swing and a miss
The situation: One on, none out, bottom of the eighth inning, Reynolds on first base.


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The decision: Melvin sends Justin Upton to the plate to pinch-hit for Jeff Salazar against Colorado lefty Brian Fuentes.

The outcome: Upton strikes out.

The analysis: Going with a right-handed pinch-hitter was an obvious choice in that situation, but if Upton wasn't going to try to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Jeff Cirillo would have been a better bet to make contact against Fuentes.

Valverde in the stretch
The situation: Game tied, 2-2, heading to the top of the 11th inning.


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The decision: Melvin decides to let Jose Valverde work a second inning.

The outcome: Valverde gives up an infield hit and three walks, including two with two out, to force in the go-ahead run.

The analysis: The Arizona closer has been a one-inning guy in all but three of his 65 appearances this year. It was understandable that Melvin would want to stretch Valverde for as many batters as possible, but it backfired.

"You gotta keep him in there. He's the closer. In there for two innings, and once he gives up a run, you go get him. You gotta at least go with your best until they get a run."
-- Melvin

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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