March 5, 2015

Wow. (Part 2)

OK – a month ago, the Phillies had a ridiculous comeback win against the Mets that looked like it might be the game that got us out of our funk. Well, it didn’t work, so the Phillies are tried again tonight. Instead of getting into the negatives (Moyer’s worst outing, Burrell and Howard stinking in the clutch, Wheeler not shutting up about how Kyle Kendrick pitching tonight will screw us up until 2011) let’s keep this an entirely positive post (but feel free to vent in the comments).

Heroes of the Night

  1. Chris Coste – People usually don’t go 4 for 4 after coming in in the 8th inning. Coste got the hit that several before him couldn’t, and looked calm and collected doing it.
  2. Jimmy Rollins – 5 for 7, 3 RBI, 3 SB. You’d think with that line he would have had more than 1 run. If he’s back (after these last 2 games, he’s batting 7 points higher than Pat Burrell for the season), this team WILL make a run, and WILL make the playoffs. IF he’s back.
  3. The Bullpen – Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Lidge, Madson, Romero and Seanez. 10 IP, 5 H, 1 ER. Can a bullpen carry a team? I don’t know, but I can say that this squad would be well out of the playoff race without these guys.
  4. Jayson Werth – Scored the game-tying run in the 9th from first with a ball hit to Ryan Church, who has a good arm. Also, made the defensive play of the game, gunning down David Wright at 2nd in the 11th.
  5. The Mets – They had as many, if not more, chances to hold on to this game, and then win it. Fernando Tatis gets more clutch hits than Beltran and Reyes combined, and when things start to go bad, the whole team crumbles. I think this team lacks solid leadership, they kind of remind me of the Abreu/Burrell led Phillies squads of years past. David Wright is their Utley, but they don’t have a Rollins.

Well, that’s it. You know it was an amazing game when the guy who got the game-tying hit with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth (Poseidon himself, Eric Bruntlett) doesn’t even make the list of the 5 heroes of the game.

I’m very happy with this win, but I’m holding back my enthusiasm. We absolutely needed this game, it was the most important game of the year. Had we lost, and then got shut down by Santana, you could see the season taking a dive as we travel for four at Wrigley while 2 1/2 back.

But at least I will be happy for the next 18 hours. For now, I need some damn sleep.

If you liked this post...Help Spread the Word:
  • YardBarker
  • BallHype
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Google
  • Mixx
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Buzz


  1. Kevin says:

    Incredible! I love beating the Mets!

  2. bski says:

    Wow! It’s always fun when the circus comes to town, isn’t it?  We saw everything but the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy last night.  There was so much going on (and on and on) that it gets difficult to go back and remember every little thing. 

    I’m thinking about things like the fact that even though our bullpen did a commendable job, they were in several tight spots.  It’s a credit to them that they hung tough and made pitches when they had to. 

    I’m thinking about the defense.  There were many plays that helped to keep the Mets off the board for the final 9 innings.  They were able to turn several double plays in key situations. Howard and Rollins made some nice plays.  Dobbs made a nice one to start one of the double plays.  Werth threw out Wright.

    I’m thinking about base running.  6 steals, Victorino’s triple, Werth scoring from first on Bruntlett’s double.

    I’m thinking about Manuel.  He pulled out all the stops.   Holding Bruntlett back to pinch hit for the pitcher (and having him deliver-big time), having Ruiz play third for an inning (and finding out later that he has been taking ground balls there lately?).

    I’m thinking about the fact that I almost didn’t watch the game! On my way home last night I caught the 4th inning on the radio.  I heard us score on the sacrifice fly but we were down 7-1, so I figured there was no point in watching when I got home.  Well, I can never totally give up on the Phils, so I decided to watch a couple innings to see if they could climb back in it.  I saw the two 2-run home runs in the 5th and the rest, as they say, is history. 

    Speaking of watching the game, I watched it on SportsNet New York.  I actually prefer to watch the Phils on another channel when given the opportunity, for many reasons.  What exactly was Wheeler saying?

    You know, if someone asked me why I love baseball so much, last night’s game would be the answer.  To me, it was a perfect example of everything that is right about the sport, and why so many of us live and die with our team.  The best part of the whole thing for me was seeing every player on the top step, hanging over the railing, exhorting their teammates, literally hanging on every pitch and every swing, and bursting with an all out passion for the game.  As the game went on, everything else (money, contract status, the various animosities, etc…) dissolved away, leaving nothing but the game on the field.  That is priceless!

  3. T.O says:

    Yea having Ruiz play third was a great move. For all the stuff people say about Manuel that move saved Bruntlett so that he could tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Uncle Chuck is the man.

    Does anyone think that Kendrick is going to be affected by throwing 40 pitches last night in the pen? Anyone going to the game tonight.. I got tickets right behind Pat in left field.

  4. bski says:

    A couple other things I forgot I was thinking (due to sleep deprivation):

    I mentioned the base running, but I think it goes beyond that.  I feel that the Phils’ base running is the barometer by which we can measure the team’s aggressiveness.  There is no question that we play better when we are the aggressors and take it to the other team.  We seemed to be more aggressive against the Dodgers, but sometimes I couldn’t tell how much of it was us and how much of it was them laying back (which they clearly were).  After last night, I’m thinking it was all us.

    I was also thinking about all the broken bats in last night’s game.  Interestingly enough, I found an article today about the Radial Bat. An MIT grad from New Jersey, Ward Dill, unveiled his new invention yesterday.  He said he was trying for a safer wooden bat (and an alternative to metal bats).  The bat is made from 12 wedges of wood, combined with adhesive, and clamped under pressure.  He says that it is impossible for his maple bat to shatter.  He says the worst that can happen is a crack.  Sounds pretty interesting, huh?

  5. jjg says:

    Phils at CBP:  pinball baseball.  Can be intimidating.  Opposing pitchers need to knock ‘em off the plate.  Flip a few.  Bean one once in a while (below the bean of course).  They get as comfy in batter’s box as a beer-league softball team.  If you let ‘em.   
    And  6 steals from a Phils squad?!  What in the name of Juan Samuel, Bob Dernier and Jeff Stone is going on?  Are pick-off moves deteriorating?  Is 90 ft. too short for the modern thief?
    Do catchers not anticipate well?  Or have rag arms? 

    Rollins, still at it, called fans “just background music” the other day in an interview.  To cheer for the unrepentant 7 million dollar shortstop on the basis of a few hits lately (following his post-insult 4 for 47) is absurd.  I’ve never liked the talented, but somewhat overrated, styler for reasons that have come to bear this season.  Would move him for an everyday player and a starting pitcher.   

  6. Pete says:

    bski – In the 13th, when Kendrick was warming up, Wheeler (who I don’t dislike as much as many do) would not stop talking about how if we bring Kendrick in, its going to mess up our rotation and screw us for the Cubs series. But the way he was saying it, you would have thought that if we brought him in, you might as well mail in the season.

    jjg -

    I wouldn’t trade Rollins unless I was blown away by an offer. $7 million is a bargain for an above average offensive and defensive SS, with occasional dominant stretches. And, if we did, I’d get an OF bat in return – Our rotation is pretty crowded for next year (especially with Moyer hinting he would like to return) – Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Carrasco, Happ.

    The only way I would do it for a pitcher would be to package Myers and Rollins for a #1 starter and then bring up Jason Donald to play SS and use the leftover money to re-sign Burrell.

  7. Pete says:

    as for cheering Rollins – I’m the kind of guy who looks at someone’s career as a whole. Rollins has been good for us for years, and carried us to the playoffs last year, winning the MVP as a 5’8” SS. He’s having a bad year, but I think he’s earned some support. This is the same way I feel about McNabb, and used to feel about Iverson, by the way.

    Not saying you are wrong, just sharing my mindset.

  8. bski says:

    Pete…Thanks for filling me in on what Wheeler was saying.  I don’t despise him or anything.  My main problem with him are all the Wheeler-isms he trots out game after game, year after year, to explain, minimize, apologize, brush aside, and generally gloss over many of the mistakes and the bad baseball we have seen over the years.  It’s just wearying.  I would prefer if he just left it alone and said nothing instead of always trying to cover for the organization but, he gets paid to talk, and the organization pays him.  What’s a guy to do?

    You know, I end up spending a decent amount of time listening to the Phils on the radio.  I have to say that, as this season has progressed, I have noticed Larry Andersen getting more and more vocal about the Phils struggles.  I think he has been more direct, honest, open, critical, frustrated, and demanding than I can ever remember.  Now, if he would just get some new teeth, shave his moustache, or move his lips when he speaks so he would stop whistling every time he pronounces an S.  I know that’s nasty, but he’s getting worse with that and it drives me insane.

  9. jjg says:

    bski, What’s Wheeler, good career company guy, to do? - SHUT UP ONCE IN A WHILE, let the action or picture tell the story.  He’s learned everything he knows about baseball by proxy, yet out-McCarvers McCarver.  WAYYYYY too much detail, WAYYYYY too many speculations, suppositions and talk-overs, WAYYYYY too much corn and homerism.  “Get ‘em outta here, Harry!” 

  10. jjg says:

    Pete, Appreciate your perspective on Rollins.  Is certainly a B+ player.  Guess you can tolerate his self-important air and shenanigans more than I.  And his refusal to bunt more often and to work a pitcher deep are debits, though he’s improved some this year on second account. 

    That pitching list you offered was considerable but many still question marks for long haul.  Quality starting pitching – never enough. 

  11. Morty says:

    jjg: I could not agree more with you about Wheeler. Just shut up already. Harry K is often aggressively silent with Wheeler in an attempt to stop what nature cannot.

  12. Morty says:

    bski: I’m not sure I understand why Ruiz went to third.  I understand why both Coste and Ruiz had to be in the game, but considering Coste has played 3B extensively in the minors, wouldn’t it have made more sense to play him there? Apparently, Ruiz had to use his chest to block a routine warm up ground ball thrown by Howard – funny, but not really. Am I missing something?

  13. sfw says:

    I’ve been able to tolerate Wheeler somewhat the past 2 years. Seems he’s cut back a bit on his intolerable ramblings about what the players on the field are thinking. I hated that. Still not a fan at all. They could remove him, rearrange their lineup and make it work but I’m sure he’ll be around til he crokes. Do miss R Ashburn!……………………

  14. bski says:

    Morty…I didn’t get it at first either.  I knew Ruiz was a 2nd baseman before he was converted to catcher.  I either heard or read a post game quote from Manuel saying that Ruiz has been taking grounders at 3rd, but I could not find it to confirm.  As fate would have it, I was just listening to Frantzke and Andersen on the radio on my way home.  During the bottom of the 5th they were talking about the different strategies employed by Manuel last night.  Frantzke said that Manuel told them that Ruiz takes grounders at 3rd every day and that Coste takes grounders at first every day.  I guess that explains the decision.

  15. jjg says:

    Was listening to game on radio tonight.  Larry Anderson, talking from his own experience, strongly second-guessed Dubee’s visit to mound to chat with Seanez after Rudy had just “blown away” Wright, was in rhythm, had achieved 2 outs without a conference.  The rest – Delgado’s opposite field HR and aftermath - supported his point.  

  16. bski says:

    Morty...Here’s another follow up on Ruiz playing 3rd from the Daily News. Even though there appears to be an answer to why Ruiz was sent to 3rd Tuesday night, that still leaves the question of why he takes grounders every day.  I’m wondering if it had anything to do with Feliz being out for a month and the Phils wanting to have an extreme emergency backup plan.

  17. Pete says:

    tough loss last night.

    as much as we say wins are a very misleading stat, last night was not an example of this. regardless of how bad kendrick pitched, he gave up 2 ER and Santana gave up 3.

    good point by LA. Seanez wasn’t brought here to be pitching in those situations, but the extra inning game handcuffed us.

    was surprised they brought Carpenter up. He hasn’t had much success past A-Adv.

  18. jjg says:

    This Phillies collection often doesn’t lay it on line unless they’re playing with “underdog fever” or perceive to have been insulted by being out-hot dogged, as Tatis HR shuffle provided the night before, resulting in a “hornet’s nest” home dugout and a grind-out Phils win.  They’re a team of talent, but only good, not great, due to their propensity to cruise in stretches on natural gifts and motions.  Last 5 season win totals:  89, 85, 88, 86, 86.  Avg:  86.8.  And how does that figure align with a steady ’red sea’ of attendance and championship talk?  CBP:  Montgomery’s Ward.  Phillies fever – don’t catch it or you’ll be confined to the “also-ran” chamber until February 15. 

  19. jjg says:

    Where’s Carrasco?  Is Gillick savin’ him for something?  Carpenter, out of the blue.  Had been ranked 4th on prospect list behind Carrasco, Savery, Drabek – in that order. 

  20. bski says:

    There’s nothing quite like a deflating loss (to the Mets of all teams) to stifle the chatter, is there?  Tough loss, like Pete said, but there is still a lot to be positive about–Today I’m choosing to be a Posidelphian instead of a dreaded Negadelphian. To that end, I will list some positives.

    We just had a 6-1 home stand.  I’m happy with that and I’m sure that, if asked beforehand, many of you would have gladly taken it.

    We seem to have recaptured our aggressiveness which, to me, is vital to our success.

    Jimmy Rollins has come back to life.  Step one for us is Jimmy getting on base.  When he does that, we win. 

    Ryan Howard is playing better defensively.  That catch he made on the foul ball up the right field line was fabulous.  Also, he is throwing better.  He made a perfect throw to Rollins to nail Pierre when he was picked off and last night he made a decent enough throw (again to Rollins) to convert a 3-6-3 double play.

    Now, how about some positive explanations for some questionable situations…….

    Charlie Manuel is the same guy making the same decisions.  He took some chances on Tuesday and it paid off with a win.  He took a chance last night, it didn’t work, and we lost.  Many think he was a genius for what he did on Tuesday and a moron for what he did last night, but there is a lot more to it than just him.

    First of all, it’s the players who determine which moves turn out to be successful and which ones are failures.  Yes, the manager has to make sure he is putting his players in situations where they have the greatest chance of success, but ultimately the players have to get it done.

    Second, there is an awful lot that goes on, very little of which we are privy to, that affects the manager’s decisions.  Nagging injuries, minor illnesses, hangovers, personal problems, etc…all impact who is available, how long they can go, and their potential effectiveness.  We have basically no idea about each player’s status on any given day, so there is no way for us to know exactly how limited Manuel is in any situation.  We are all well aware that Tuesday’s game wrecked our bullpen.  I’m sure we also had a pretty good idea that it would affect us last night.  Well, it did.  Sometimes, no matter how much you try to avoid it, you get backed into a corner and you are left with no choice.  The thing is this, Manuel decided not to use some guys last night and we lost a single game.  What if he pushed it and brought in Durbin, Madson, or whoever and they got injured from overwork?  How long would they be out, how many games  would be affected, and how many do we lose? (more than one I think). 

    I am frustrated by last night’s loss.  A part of me wants to go all apes**t on Manuel, like Apollo Creed did to Rocky, and scream “There is no tomorrow.  There is no tomorrow!” Unfortunately, there is.  There are a whole bunch of tomorrows left in this season and Manuel has to think of those as well.

    Third, Seanez is not supposed to pitch in those situations.  That’s not his role.  He has done it other times this season when we’ve been caught short and he’s gotten the job done.  He just didn’t do it last night is all.

    Fourth, Manuel could have brought Lidge in to face Delgado, but he wanted to hold him back for the 9th.  There were 2 outs and nobody on base, so Manuel took a chance.  I’m sure Lidge was coming in if Delgado got on base.  Unfortunately, instead of just a  single, Delgado made Manuel pay for deciding to squeeze one more batter out of Seanez.

    Manuel is not alone in being hidebound by the “rules of using your closer”.  The whole “clean inning” philosophy drives me crazy and I think it really devalues the save.  A Brad Lidge save is not the equivalent of a Bruce Sutter save, (or a Goose Gossage save, or a Rollie Fingers save) IMO.  We all know that many times the game is won or lost in the 7th or 8th inning.  Maybe Madson is trying to hold a 1 run lead and then later we tack on a run or two and Lidge comes in with a 3 run lead.  Either that or the top or the middle of the order is up in the 7th or 8th and Lidge faces the bottom of the order in the 9th.  Plus, middle relievers come into games with men on base pretty regularly.  The late inning “brige to Lidge” guys do as well.  Meanwhile, the best bullpen arm we have only pitches when he can start an inning clean.  Nonsense.

    I feel that the decision he made last night should be more of an indictment of the rules of MLB instead of Manuel’s ability to manage.  He was just instinctively doing what every other manager does with their closer.  I would love to see all of the closers in baseball pitch in the most crucial inning of the game, whether it is the 7th, 8th, or 9th. The only way that could possibly happen is for MLB to redefine how a pitcher earns a save. If a save could be earned anywhere from the 7th inning on, you know darn well that managers would use them anywhere in the late innings of games, because there would be no reason to hold them back specifically for the 9th.  They could still bring them in to start an inning (after all, they try to do that with most relievers anyway).  I think if MLB would redefine the save it would be great for the game.  Think about it.  We would have the best pitcher in every bullpen pitching the most critical inning late in the ball game. 

    That’s where I think Manuel really put himself in a bind.  In wanting to hold Lidge back for the save, he allowed the opportunity for the Phils to lose the game in the 8th, before Lidge could even take the mound.  If the rules were changed, Lidge faces the heart of the Mets order in the 8th, sets them down, earns the save, and then Seanez can finish off the bottom of the order in the 9th.  Big difference?  I think so!

    Sorry.  This got a bit long.  I got on a roll there.  Usually the negativity brings out the rants.  Who knew I could be so verbose while being positive?

  21. jjg says:

    bski, Being a Manuel apologist isn’t necessarily positive, though you ARE in the running for today’s Phillies Pollyanna Award, a box of pink leftfield petunias (as watered, pruned, shaped and delivered by Chris Wheeler via Phanatic’s all-terrain vehicle).  And your defense of the poor, tattered (well-paid, professional) bullpen is out on a limb.  All those extenuating possibilities you mention for participation waivers get thrown out the window in a pennant race with 29 games to go.  Winners suck it up and do it; losers find excuses.  Mets played in identical conditions the night before.   

  22. bski says:

    JJG…I never said I agreed with the way pitchers are used today, because I do not.  Regardless of how you or I or anyone else feels about it, or how much we want it to be like it was in days gone by, it is not, and most likely will not ever be that way again.

    Lucky for you, I don’t have time to get into all of it right now.  I’ll just quickly say that Manuel has to manage today, with the way the game is played today, with the players he has today, and how they are taught/groomed/handled/protected/coddled, etc…today.  I’m not trying to be an apologist for Manuel, but we have to accept the fact that he is not managing a game in the 70′s or the 50′s.   The game has changed, the players have changed, so the managers must change.  Unfortunately, some of that change is not for the better.

  23. Zack says:

    bski, how ya doin’ buddy?  Just caught up on what’s happened in the past month.  I predicted the Phils would be in 1st by the time I got back – I was off by 1/2 game.  Just watched the Phils waste a golden opportunity to get up on the Cubs early…

    …Burrell just grounded into a DP, damn…and Howard strikes out again, I see things havent’ changed much, I’m going back to China now…

    …I’m extremely jet-lagged, I got up right before the start of the game.  I’m gonna take it in, and then play devil’s advocate and counter some of what you’ve said regarding the Iguodala contract situation – HA HA, just kidding, don’t have heart attack, I agree with what that one poster who said Iggy’s become our Brett Favre (I don’t read anything Favre-related, unless it has to do with game performance).  Later.

    Pete, no more “Wow.” articles, the Phils are 0-2 so far after you write those.  But there may be some correlation, the “Wow.” games could be so draining that the Phils just can’t muster…

    …I love Cole Hamels, pre-pubescent voice and everything, he just sent the Cubs down in order…

    …(cont.) muster anything for the next game.

  24. bski says:

    Zack…Welcome back from China!  I’ve been doing yeoman’s work here on the baseball topics.  Now that you’re back you can help me with the heavy lifting.

    I’m watching the game too.  They just put 3 on the board in the top of the 6th and are up 4-1.  I think they’ve been pretty disciplined against Dempster.  He’s been consistently falling behind the hitters and we were finally able to make him pay.  Hamels is pitching very well (he just set the Cubs down easily in the bottom of the 7th and is coming out for a pinch hitter) and Howard made another nice defensive play tonight. ( I see a noticeable improvement in his defense lately).

    Just to get you up to speed, Pete has gotten to the point where he now would actually consider trading Rollins (as long as we are getting something major in return, of course).

    Get yourself re-acclimated.  We’ve got lots to catch up on.  Glad to have you back.

  25. Zack says:

    bski, that would’ve normally been a win, given how well our bullpen has pitched this year, even against the best teams in baseball.  Blanton against Harden tomorrow, should be interesting.  Blanton was supposed to have been the better pitcher, but for some reason Harden turned out to be the stud.  According to Blanton’s blog, that A’s roster was pretty close, I think we’ll see some friendly competition between the two tomorrow and a low-scoring game… a low-scoring game, ha ha ha, that should be no problem for the Phils.

  26. Zack says:

    bski, I agree with jjg about “Winners suck it up and do it; losers find excuses.”  With only a month left, and given what they did last year, the Phils have to close it out in September, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  You mentioned hangovers, that’s funny…  Adam Eaton?

  27. Zack says:

    bski, you wrote a paragraph talking about MLB’s save rules, I wanna comment on that.  I agree that those rules have made it so that top relievers want high save numbers, and managers risk pissing them off by having them pitch in earlier, just-as-critical innings.

    But one of the themes of your comments (not just your last one, but in general) is that players are comfortable in certain roles, and not in others, so I think you somewhat contradict yourself when you say you wish Manuel could pitch Lidge in the 7th or 8th.  Given Lidge’s mentality (Pujols home run), pitching Lidge outside the 9th inning is something Manuel really shouldn’t do without proper preparation.  And about Lidge’s talent, I’m no pitching expert, but his stuff doesn’t seem that dominating, he doesn’t come in and blow hitters away.  I think a huge part of his game must be mental, that he studies other teams’ hitters intently and really strategizes for every hitter.

  28. Ryan says:

    Phillies are looking good. They are making a strong push. Im on board.

  29. bski says:

    Zack…Thank you very much for jumping into this discussion.  I think I am not making myself clear.  I am not contradicting myself at all.  What you said goes exactly to my point.

    Yes, players are comfortable in certain roles which prevents them from bring effective when asked to do something different.  Yes, it should not be done without proper preparation.  Finally (and this is the biggie), a huge part of it is mental.

    You have hit on everything! It is exactly what I want to see change. I am going to try and be as clear as possible in my explanation this time.

    I believe that the “role of the closer” is an artificial construct built around the rules governing how a save is awarded.  It has evolved over the last 30 years (damn that LaRussa) into what is is now.  Since it has changed, I believe that it can change again.  What I am talking about is a paradigm shift that literally redefines the “role of the closer”.

    I’m with you.  I don’t go for all this bowing and scraping at the feet of the modern day closer.  I think that, if properly prepared, many relief pitchers could certainly handle 9th inning (or late inning) duties.  The reason they cannot do it now is because an entire generation of pitchers now behold the closer as a hallowed position, with an impenetrable aura and mystique to which many of them can never aspire.  In essence they are mentally conditioned to believe that a pitcher needs to be a very special, rare breed in order to do the job.  I believe that many relievers could physically do the job, but they psyche themselves out mentally.  They destroy their chance at success in their own mind before they even attempt it.  I truly believe that if we could pull back the curtain, as it were, many relievers would find that the wizard is nothing to be feared after all. It’s going to take time, but I think eventually we can deprogram relievers so that they are mentally able to deal with different situations.

    This may seem like a goofy analogy, but I’ll give it to you anyway.  I have coached youth sports for a while (basketball, soccer, and baseball).  I have coached against guys in basketball who have told certain kids to never shoot the ball. Well, if Jimmy doesn’t shoot the ball in 3rd grade, or 4th grade, or 5th grade, Jimmy will never be able to shoot the ball.  While ignoring the fact that it is totally screwed up to tell an 8 year old that he stinks and should never shoot the ball, it becomes a self-fulfilling kind of thing, you know?  If Jimmy never shoots, he never gets better.  If he never gets better, he is never allowed to shoot.  So, Jimmy (if he sticks with the game) becomes a defensive specialist or a rebounder or whatever.  The same thing goes for relievers.  If they are never allowed to pitch in certain situations, they will never be able to pitch in those situations.  When that happens, they do not feel comfortable or are not mentally prepared to pitch in other situations so that, when they are called upon out of necessity, they fail.

    About last night’s game. A mere 8 hours after I post about wanting to use the closer earlier in the game, what happens?  Our 8th inning set up men blow the game.  The frustration of seeing that happen too many times in the past is exactly what prompted me to say what I did yesterday.

    I’m not saying that Lidge should have necessarily even started the 8th (although I would have preferred if he did), but certainly I would have loved to see him come in instead of Durbin.  I’m not blaming Durbin (or Manuel for using him).  He has been fantastic all year.  It’s just that it was a perfect illustration of the point I was trying to make.  Again, 25-30 years ago, every manager in the game brings in his “fireman of the year” candidate in that situation without hesitation.  That is exactly what they were in the bullpen for.  We are talking about a 2 run lead in the bottom of the 8th, runners on 1st and 3rd, nobody out, and the 3-4-5 hitters coming up.  If that is not the most crucial part of the game, then I’m missing something.  If Lidge gets us through that, even if the runner from 3rd scored, we have a 4-3 lead going to the 9th, the 6-7-8 hitters are coming up, and the next reliever starts a clean inning.

    That 8th inning should be a save situation (without the reliever being required to finish the game) and Lidge should pitch it, period. Instead, Manuel keeps his biggest bullpen gun securely holstered, keeping him in reserve for a save situation that never ocurred.  We lose while  Lidge watches from the bullpen (all warmed up I might add), good night.

  30. bski says:

    JJG…I didn’t forget about you.  I want to continue our conversation from yesterday, but I’m pressed for time.  I won’t forget about it.  Hopefully I can get a post up later today or tomorrow because I feel the discussion is worth having.

  31. Dannie says:

    I am sure you guys heard about Matt Stairs, right?  Pete is tied up with stuff for our Clark Kent job but will post something this afternoon.

  32. jjg says:

    #1 pitcher and resident hothouse orchid Hamels did the San Diego chicken again last night after 108 pitches on a cool Chicago night (after Dubee, NOT Manuel, dugout conference).  As their ace, with taxed bullpen and 3 run lead, he’s gotta appear in 8th, finish as much as he can.  If 1 or 2 batters get on, THEN a good job’s finished.  Otherwise, he’s mislabeled.  Smooth delivery, great stuff, is probably good company at beach barbecues, but not sure you want him in your foxhole. 

  33. Pete says:

    how do you know Hamels pulled himself?

    furthermore, I’m not about to get on the NL leader in IP for not pitching enough innings, especially with his history of injury problems. It was 4-1, not 1-0, the bullpen should be able to handle that, regardless of rest. (its a tad contradictory to say Hamels should overwork his arm and pitch well, but the bullpen, with the best ERA in baseball, should be held back due to arm overwork)

  34. jjg says:

    Pete, Don’t know for sure, but that’s my conjecture based on hearing word of his Dubee bottom of 7 chat and having closely viewed Hamels act for a few years now.  Maybe his parents or   chiropractor phoned in to dugout with permission to leave.

    The 3 run cushion is exactly why a further effort on his part made sense, unless his arm was utterly shot, which I doubt.    Tired to a degree, yes.  Shot, hardly.  Give for the team – the max, not the self-measured; very small chance that his arm health was in jeopardy.  He’d been given an extra day’s rest by the club (missed Mets as a result).  Whether it was a Hamels or coach/mgr. call - a costly mistake.

    As for your charge of contradiction, I expect more of my ace than a jerry-rigged bullpen.  That surprisingly-effective pen – up to 8/26 - is partly illusory and increasingly threadbare.  Cubs eyes probably lit up at sight of Ryan Madsen, after scant success vs. Kid Cole.  Result:  1 loss; 1 pea removed from under mattress after 7th inning.  

  35. Zack says:

    bski, baseball ain’t gonna take away the closer.  They’ve become rock stars of the game, like home run hitters and staff aces, and thus, a reason people watch the game now.  I know I get all hyped up when Lidge comes in to close the game for us, don’t you?  Baseball won’t take it away because it takes away one less thing to watch, which will take away more viewers, and take away money.

    It would be hard to re-define the role of the closer because of the “save” stat.  Given the situation you gave above – 2 on, no one out – how could you compensate a good performance by a reliever with some sort of quantifiable number?  Because that’s what a lot of players look for, some stats counting their feats, because those stats mean bigger paychecks.  Those bigger paychecks come because fans will want to come to the ball park and watch TV to see you get those stats.

    My way to change the game would be much simpler than your smacking around Jimmy’s coach, telling him everyone should get a chance to shoot, not just Carmelo – if you pitch under save conditions in the 8th inning instead of the ninth, you get a save, or half a save.

    I’m beat, been up 24 hours straight, catch you tomorrow.

  36. bski says:

    Zack…I thought about that before and it works for me.  The NFL awards 1/2 sacks, so baseball could award 1/2 a save or even 1/3 of a save if each guy in the 7th, 8th, and 9th pitched under save conditions.  That still doesn’t lessen my desire to smack around Jimmy’s coach, however.

    We can continue under the new topic.

    When I say that it is not Durbin’s role to pitch the 9th, that is the reality of today.  That’s why I said earlier that I do not blame Manuel for using Durbin Thursday night.  These comments are based on the facts on the ground.  I would like for things to be different but, for now, they are not and we have to deal with

  37. bski says:

    Zack…Please disregard that last paragraph.  I started into something else, but I decided to can it.   Apparently I did not delete all of it.