Through the first two games of the ALDS between the Rangers and Blue Jays, it seemed as though Rangers rookie manager Jeff Banister could do nothing wrong, and he was showing himself to be a front runner for the AL Manager of the Year award after guiding the Rangers from nothing to an AL West title over a matter of six weeks.
His hot streak continued on Thursday and Friday in Toronto, as the Rangers went to Canada and took two games from the World Series favorites behind some shrewd moves from their manager and a dominant effort from their bullpen, which Banister managed perfectly.
He also made the call to start Yovani Gallardo in Game 1, which paid off nicely.
Then, the Rangers returned home with two chances to close out the Blue Jays, and everything Banister did, seemingly, went sour.
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It started with Sunday night's game when he elected to pitch to Troy Tulowitzki with first base open instead of walking him with two outs and pitching to a defensive catcher. That, as we know, backfired, when Tulo sent a shot over the left field wall to open up what was then a 2-0 game.
On Monday, Banister elected to start a struggling Mitch Moreland (0-for-the series) at first base instead of Mike Napoli, who had a key hit in Toronto and had previously done very well against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Toronto's Game 4 starter. Moreland, once again, was awful.
The biggest error of the day, however, came when he ran Derek Holland back out for the third inning after he'd allowed two home runs and four runs in the first two frames, essentially putting his team out of the running early on and staking them with a 3-0 deficit before they ever took the batter's box.
While the Rangers had David Price warming up before the game, the Rangers didn't get Colby Lewis up until the game was already decided, and there's no excuse or reason for Holland trotting back out for the third when it was clear he had nothing — serving up beach balls up in the zone and middle-middle for the two-plus innings he worked.
Banister has a shot to redeem himself on Wednesday in the winner-take-all Game 5, it's just up to him to do it.