For what it’s worth, I first-guessed this in the press box before the decision blew up.
The thought process behind leaving Wells in to face Betemit, apparently, is that you’re trying to get him a win. He’s an important part of the team. You need him to be good if this team is going to be good. Fair enough.
But the home run came on pitch No. 120 — in the fifth inning. That’s seriously hard work. That’s not like throwing 120 in seven or eight innings. The left-hander had already been up, and should have been available to come in — and Betemit has a significant platoon split. You want LHP facing Betemit.
Additionally, if the goal is to boost Wells, help his confidence, etc, then leaving him in risks doing just the opposite. By leaving him in to pitch to Betemit, you open yourself up to the distinct possibility that a completely gassed pitcher is going to be exposed when he’s got very little left, give up a big hit, and ruin whatever positives he’d built up by gutting his way through 4 2/3. The decision has a significant risk not only in the outcome of the game, but in the one area you’re trying to help — Wells’ confidence.
Mostly though, it comes down to this, in my eyes — if the team were 21-16, you could pay more attention to individual matters and getting guys going and things like that. When they’re 16-21, and when even the manager admits that they have very little margin for error, you can’t afford to look at it in those terms. You have to win today. You have to do what maximizes the chances of winning today. And that was to take Wells out after 4 2/3 and bring in the LHP.