SAN FRANCISCO -- 1. Yankees manager
How could Girardi make such risky moves? Numbers. That fat binder he keeps in the dugout told him to play the percentages -- to have Burnett intentionally walk Murphy, a left-handed hitter, to pitch to
"Murphy has swung the bat in the past pretty good against him," Girardi said.
This is the information Girardi acted on: Murphy is a career .278 hitter against Burnett. Five hits in 18 at-bats (including one hit, a home run, in the past seven at-bats.) Two-seventy-eight. Eighteen at-bats. That's it.
That decision might have been tolerable if Girardi then fetched a right-handed pitcher who actually has pitched in a meaningful game in recent weeks. No
Of course, it blew up on Girardi immediately. Molina, who seems to have a knack for big hits, blasted an inside fastball for a game-busting, back-breaking home run.
I could not believe it happened. The danger of Burnett was so obvious that I
Burnett is, by measurement of his 5.26 ERA, the worst pitcher in franchise history ever to take his turn in the rotation more than 25 times. He hadn't pitched in nearly three weeks. Since Aug. 2 he was 1-7 with a 6.61 ERA. He was too dangerous to trust for too long.
Here is how I concluded the item yesterday before the game: "There is no way after the way Burnett threw the ball the previous two months that Girardi can allow Game 4 to get away with Burnett on the mound."
What seemed incomprehensible actually happened.
Back in 2002, 13 of the first 25 picks in the draft were pitchers. Two of them wound up facing each other yesterday in NLCS Game 3 and another one goes today in Game 4. The guy who dominated yesterday was the last of those 13 pitchers taken in the top 25. Here is the order of the first 13 pitchers drafted in 2002, their slot in the draft, and their career records in the majors (NLCS pitchers in bold):
Cain actually has more strikeouts and more innings and a lower career ERA than Hamels (3.45-3.53). There was some justice involved with Cain, the guy with the losing career record and buzzard's luck, outpitching Hamels and posting an NLCS "W" to his resume. In a typical Cain game in NLDS Game 2, Cain allowed no earned runs -- and didn't get a win.
With all the talk about the Phillies' Big Three (the H2O starters), the Giants have owned the postseason with the best set of
Giants starters are now 7-for-7 in quality starts this postseason. The tally: 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA, 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings and a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Before the NLCS, a scout told me, "Keep an eye on
The Phillies should have been back in the dugout with a 2-0 deficit after
Instead, Utley played it into a bad hop. A jam shot like that is going to create spin on the ball, rendering the first bounce tricky. Sure enough, the bounce ate up Utley, and the Giants' third run was ushered home by his poor decision.
The play was initially ruled an error, then changed to a hit -- almost as bad a call as Utley made. Plain and simple, it was an error because it was a play that should have been made without extraordinary effort.
Meanwhile, San Francisco pitchers have owned Utley. He has one hit, an infield single, in 10 at-bats with few balls hit hard. Since Sept. 17 he is hitting .257 with just four extra-base hits. Time is running out for Utley to get hot.
Does baseball have some rotten luck or what? The baseball postseason has been full of pitching stars and great mound performances, though much of it has shared the spotlight with college and pro football telecasts. So last night baseball finally gets a prime time spot with no competition from football, and what's the pitching matchup for everyone to see in ALCS Game 4?
The result? Four hours and five minutes of rotten baseball that was tough for casual fans to watch. The toll: 320 pitches, 10 pitchers and nine walks.
Something is seriously wrong with baseball's instant replay rules if that home run by