Thank you for the kind words. Let's walk through the factors that led to that decision, explaining it and exploring it, while -- let me be clear here -- not advocating for it.
The biggest pivot in that inning was Gallegos' nail coming apart. That meant that he would not throw a pitch in the ninth inning -- he couldn't without severe pain, questionable control -- but would serve as a decoy. By going out there to start the inning, he lured the Dodgers into making the pinch-hit move for a lefthanded bat. The Cardinals then countered with T. J. McFarland and that invited Albert Pujols into the game. Let's pick up the action there.
-- Pujols lines out.
-- Souza lines out.
Now the Cardinals have the matchup they actually want -- a left on left with Bellinger facing McFarland, and not just any Bellinger but a struggling Bellinger, a Bellinger who entered the game batting .165 for the season. His defense got him in the game. Look no further than where he hit in the lineup. Eighth. This is the next pivot of the inning. Bellinger had a .208 on-base percentage against lefties during the regular season. Four out of every five times he came to plate he was out. This was not one of them, and that's how the inning comes undone.
-- Bellinger walks.
Christ Taylor, into the game in the seventh as part of a double switch, is now at the plate. Shildt does not want the left-right matchup there vs. Taylor. That nixes McFarland (on the mound) and Genesis Cabrera (warmed up), though it seems to dismiss Cabrera reverse splits. Also, it's clear that Shildt wants to have Cabrera for more than one out, especially in extra innings as LA's lineup starts to come back around. The right-right matchup possibilities are:
-- Flaherty, but team didn't want to thrust him into traffic spot with short warmup.
-- Reyes, warm
-- Mikolas, in the bullpen but saved for extra innings, long relief
-- Kodi Whitley, compelling choice, not warm, rookie, but on a solid streak, groundball guy
-- Dakota Hudson, not arm, unclear how quickly they would want to get him warm given he's just coming back from elbow surgery.
The call here was Reyes, and you can see how Shildt would arrive at that. He's got the right-right matchup he wants against Taylor, who had been struggling mightily for the past month, especially against righthander pitchers. He has his experienced pitcher in that spot. And he needs only to get the one out from him before everything lines up from there.