ST. LOUIS -- It's the time of year when rational is replaced by illogical.
Conventional become foolish. The absurd transcends into the norm. And the norm morphs into the bizarre.
GAME 4: Scherzer pitched in relief
Baseball's postseason is the month that prompts managers to do awfully unusual things, committing acts that may appear lewd and senseless during the previous six months, and lauded as ingenuity in October.
"You've got to go away from the script,'' former Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly told USA TODAY Sports. "You'd like to think that everything works the way you hope it's going to work, but when it goes sideways, you've got to be able to think sideways.''
Certainly, that sideway thinking enabled the Diamondbacks to win the World Series when Brenly summoned ace Randy Johnson to pitch in relief in Game 7 against the New York Yankees.
It wasn't so alarming that Johnson was a five-time Cy Young winner, but he was pitching on exactly zero days' rest. He had just started the previous night against the Yankees, pitching seven innings and throwing 104 pitches, and Brenly was calling on him to now keep the game close.
"Given the circumstances," says Brenly, "especially in an elimination game, you'd be asking, 'What if,' for the rest of your life if you didn't make that move.
"Or at least along those lines.''
Sometimes, no matter how unconventional it might look, or how traditional you may be, you've got to act a little wacky in the postseason if you want to win that ring.
Just ask Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who called upon Max Scherzer, his 20-game winner and likely Cy Young winner on Tuesday to come out of the bullpen. It was the first time in two years he pitched in relief, and it took him out of a potential Game 5 start.
Well, Scherzer's performance assured there would even be a Game 5 tonight against Oakland, escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth that will live in Tigers' folklore if they play deep into October.
"You take more chances, try to be more creative,'' Leyland said. "There are no tricks or nothing to try to pull something out of the hat this time of year, just something different.''
If a manager sticks to his regular-season doctrine, declining to change with the circumstances, he can also find himself ridiculed by the masses.
Say hello to Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who decided against summoning All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning of Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kimbrel was still standing in the bullpen when third baseman Juan Uribe hit the game-winning, two-run homer, the Braves still six outs shy of their goal.
The best closer in the National League never threw a single pitch in the Braves' elimination game.
"We had it set up to bring him in for four outs,'' Gonzalez said afterwards. "I think six outs was something that we weren't even talking about in the dugout.''
OK, maybe it didn't come up in the dugout, but it sure dominated the airwaves, newspapers and water-cooler talk the next day.
The postseason can be cruel when the move backfires, and oh, so gratifying to those who gamble and win.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, lambasted for bullpen moves in their loss in Game 2, was being second-guessed before Game 4 even started, opting to start ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest instead of Ricky Nolasco. If it backfired, who knows, it might have cost Mattingly his job.
When the game ended, and the bottles of champagne and beer were carted away, he might have had as much job security as Vin Scully and Tommy Lasorda.
Dusty Baker represents the flip side. He led the Reds to three playoff berths in four years, but 48 hours after failing to survive the wild-card round, he was unemployed.
While October's cold reality dictates that decisions can forever shape a manager's image, it can also burnish his credentials, as Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon discovered Tuesday night when they were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox.
Maddon, the mad scientist of baseball managers, used nine pitchers in nine innings Tuesday night in their Game 4 elimination game. It was the most pitchers used in a nine-inning postseason game in baseball history.
Maddon says he would have even used David Price, his ace and scheduled Game 5 starter, if the game had gone onto extra innings. Batboys and clubhouse attendants, apparently, would have taken the ball in Game 5.
"I don't even have any idea who would have started that,'' said Maddon, who yanked starter Jeremy Hellickson after 22 pitches. "It didn't really matter because without winning a Game 4, there is no Game 5.''
It will be no different tonight for Oakland manager Bob Melvin, who chose rookie Sonny Gray over veteran Bartolo Colon to face the Detroit Tigers. The choice will be second-guessed all winter if Gray struggles.
The same goes for Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who made the biggest managerial decision in 21 years in Pittsburgh, selecting rookie Gerrit Cole over veteran A.J. Burnett.
It made perfect sense considering Cole's dominant performance in Game 2, and Burnett's two-inning disastrous outing in Game 1. Yet, a turn in fortune can make even a chalk move questionable.
That's the beauty of postseason baseball, for everyone but those poor souls paid to make those decisions.
"Sometimes," says Brenly, "it takes some big (guts) to make that move.''
Would Brenly even be wearing a World Series ring if he didn't have the guts to turn to Johnson that magical evening?
"I just knew," Brenly said, "I didn't want to take that chance.''
Not in October, the month where craziness isn't limited to Halloween.