Thursday, October 02, 2003
BILLY BEANE'S WET DREAM
Boy oh boy, Billy's got to be happy with the way Durazo and Pickin' Machine Hatteberg worked the Red Sox starters.
That was the worst I've ever seen Pedro pitch. Only his curveball seemed effective, and he struggled to get his fastball over 90 mph. And when he did it was straight as a board, because the Oakland hitters were knocking it all over the field.
He seemed to find a bit of a groove going change/curveball in the middle innings, but was clearly out of gas when Little somehow let him go out for the 7th inning already over 100 pitches. He proceeded to throw nothing but fastballs, including ten in a row to Durazo, Durazo taking the bad one and fouling off the good ones, until walking Durazo with a curve low in the dirt (not a bad pitch, but it maybe should have been the third or fourth of the sequence). Pedro got out of the inning unscathed because of the hackers behind Durazo, but his idiotic 130 pitch outing (amazingly, exactly what that mad-man Bobby Valentine predicted) probably rendered him ineffective for the rest of the series. Don't take my word for it:
"I don't think he can come back in three or four days," said Durazo. "If he comes back, he's one of the best horses in baseball."Oakland's got to be licking their chops.
And then why was Little so quick to pull Kim for the last out? Kim had good stuff (although Niles and I are skeptical ESPN's gun is accurate because it can't be physically possible to throw 96 underhanded) despite some questionable calls, but, no, Little decided to play the percentages rather than stick with the best available arm and it cost him the lead. (That's got to do wonders to Kim's confidence, too.)
On to extra innings.
Can anyone justify putting your Game 3 starter out there in relief in the first game of division play? Firstly, Lowe's home/road splits are dramatic. (He was a horrendous pitcher out of Fenway this year.) Secondly, despite having been a closer, Lowe hated pitching out of the bullpen early in his career. (The pressure of every pitch really razzled him.) Thirdly, HE'S YOUR GAME 3 STARTER! I know ESPN's commentators were saying things like, "Well, he'd be pitching on the side today anyways so it's not really a big deal", to which I say, "Bullshit." It's not the same thing, because if it was, you'd see starters available to toss a couple of innings between starts during the regular season. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think starters throw 100% between starts, and they certainly don't face the in-game pressure. This isn't Johnson coming into close Game 7 of the World Series. It's the first game of what the Red Sox hopeful expect to be a long postseason.
Little managed that game out of fear, like he felt he couldn't afford the Red Sox to lose a single game. And the Alanis "ironic" part? It probably cost them the series. Little lost the battle, and made the club considerably weaker for the rest of the war.
Macha, naturally, did everything right. In addition to that stolen base and sacrifice bunt that made Joe Morgan so happy, it was really how he managed his pitchers that really paid off. I think he stayed with Hudson a little long given the thumb cramp, and then he should have gone to Bradford instead of Rincon in the seventh (although looking at the numbers lefties have hit Bradford hard this year--so I take it back), but otherwise he did well. He wisely let Foulke pitch three innings (bringing him in in the ninth despite being down), and then went to his best available reliever, Harden, rather than look for someone with "playoff experience" (like say, his game 3 starter, Lilly). Despite some wild tosses, Harden looked very sharp, and very intimidating. He might have pitched himself back into the rotation should Oakland advance to the next round.
Watching Little mishandle his starters and relievers makes me think that the Red Sox' bullpen's ineffectiveness this year was at least in part due to bad managing.