Friday, July 21, 2006

We Blew It!

There are some games that make you want to lob a brick through the television. Vernon Wells inspired that notion last night. I'd like to say it took all my willpower to refrain from destroying my idiot box, but in reality, it was my lazy nature.

With a 3-0 lead in the sixth, I fell into a false sense of security. The Yankees had strung together some runs against Halladay, and Mussina looked like he was prepared to mow down the Jays right through the bottom of the ninth. And then came the double, and the error, and the double, and...well...by the end of the sixth, I was an empty and dejected man.

There's plenty of blame to go around for this loss, and I'm going to start with Ken Singleton. Yes, I am pinning 1 percent of this loss on the asinine commentator. The reason is simple: he's a fucking jinx. He was the first to mention Randy Johnson's no-no on Memorial Day (how he beat Michael Kay to the punch is beyond me), and soon thereafter it was no more. Then, in that ridiculous loss to the Indians, he did it again. Second inning, Travis Hafner up with two on.

Singleton: “For all those home runs Pronk has hit, he's never gone deep against the Yankees.”

KABAM! 7-0.

Last night, it was worse. Kay and Singleton were discussing how Toronto closer B.J. Ryan has allowed only one home run all year.

Singleton: “Well, Mariano hasn't allowed ANY this year.”

And we all know how that one turned out. Now, I'm not superstitious, but most baseball players are. I think Al Leiter needs a cattle prod in the YES booth to keep his cohorts in line.

While I'm on the subject of the YES crew, I'm going to make a confession: I actually agreed wholeheartedly with Michael Kay last night. I thought it was impossible, too, but apparently the guy does have some semblance of a thought process. When John Gibbons removed Halladay in favor of Ryan to face Jason Giambi, Kay was dumbfounded. True, the stats say that Giambi has fared well in the past against Roy, and that must have been Gibbons's motive for the switch. Why else swap out your Cy Young candidate ace for your closer with two outs and none on in the eighth?

Kay's argument was that with a low pitch count, there was no reason for Halladay to not finish the inning. He's the ace, and, as Kay astutely pointed out, he's a better started than Ryan is a closer. You can point to Ryan's ERA all you want, but he hasn't been doing it as long and dominantly as Halladay.

Of course, I'm not complaining about the move, since a single, a walk, and a broken bat single tied the game. I'm just pointing out the inefficient use of resources.

I've refrained from ripping Torre in this space for a few weeks now, probably because we've been winning. But really, his bullpen decisions have been sound of late, an optimistic sign heading into August (burnout month). When interviewed by Mike Francessa yesterday, the issue was brought up about the overuse of Mariano Rivera. Joe said that he doesn't like using him for two innings, and that they're going to try to get away from that. His response, paraphrased, was that he would base Mo's appearances and innings on his current workload.

Then why pitch him two innings last night? It makes very little sense when you remember that this is a four-game set. Why take your closer out of the next game when you don't have a day off for another week? The one inning I was perfectly fine with, but the second inning is just begging for Mo overkill. And this isn't a second-guessing or hindsight notion. Trust me, I was pretty pissed when I saw him trotting out for the 11th.

I guess my only other gripe would be with Mr. Rod, for obvious reasons. Throw it home, throw it to first; I don't care. Just make sure the throw is accurate. I'm actually wondering about Alex's intentions when throwing home in the sixth. Obviously, he had enough time, but the play was clearly to first base (hence the infield back). Maybe, in the jungle that is the psyche of A-Rod, he feared the same result as his previous throw to first base, a six-bouncer scooped by Andy Phillips. It was a great play, no doubt, but he blew it by spiking it like a touchdown celebration. So was it fear that caused Alex to make the wrong play – and throw errantly?

Pressure's on Wright now, because the Yanks simply can't afford to lose tonight's game. Pressure's on A-Rod, too, to supply the offense.