Does it feel somewhat strange for Yankee fans that they should be pondering the kind of managerial mishap that usually happened to the other guys? How uncharted for the Yankees is the uncharted territory into which Joe Girardi wandered Friday night, when he failed to ask a review on whether a Chad Green pitch hit the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall or Chisenhall’s bat?
Charlie Dressen (Ralph Branca over Carl Erskine, 1951), phone home. Casey Stengel (Jim Coates and Ralph Terry over Luis Arroyo, 1960), there’s a call for you on line 60. Mike Matheny (Michael Wacha over Trevor Rosenthal, 2014), come out from under the rug.
All is forgiven. Buck Showalter died for your sins Tuesday night and slaughtered the Orioles’ season while he was at it.
Showalter wasn’t even close to the first manager ever to make the wrong bullpen decision in a postseason win-or-be-gone game. But he may yet prove the most ignominious. Especially because the decision he refused to make Tuesday night was one he made on 31 July—and got the result he could have gotten Tuesday making the same move.
You can ask yourselves which is going to hurt for the longest time. Will it be Ubaldo Jimenez, after surrendering a wild card game-winning three-run homer on the first pitch to Edwin Encarnacion in the bottom of the eleventh Tuesday night? Or will it be Buck Showalter, after he’s roasted all the way around the Beltway for leaving Jimenez in rather than bringing in Zach Britton.
News flash: The Royals’ bullpen is only human, after all. And the Orioles actually have pulses. If you don’t believe me, you weren’t in Camden Yards Friday night. For the eighth inning especially.
These were the Orioles who’d dropped sixteen of their previous 22, were six out of the American League wild card race, and started the bottom of the eighth in the hole 6-4. The Orioles whose manager said the team planned to win 23 straight from Friday forward.
J.J. Hardy’s two-out, down-to-the-Orioles-last-strike hopper caught Mike Moustakas right where Moustakas wanted it on the third base line. Moustakas’s high throw across the infield caught first baseman Eric Hosmer right where he wanted it. OK, a little bit high, but nothing to it. We do this kinda stuff to ‘em all throughout the picture.
Just like the only two runs the Royals would need to put on the board all day long scored on a pair of grounders and a sacrifice. Big deal. We do this kinda stuff to ‘em all throughout the picture.
Have you noticed the same two things I’m noticing about the Kansas City Royals? Thing one: They seem to have positioned themselves as giant killers. (And who knows that they won’t get a chance to be Giant killers, too?) Thing two: Contrary to swelling popular opinion, they don’t always need extra innings to make a postseason statement.
It might have shocked enough people that they dispatched the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4, in Game Two of the American League Championship Series in nine regulation innings. It probably has shocked enough people that they’re halfway toward a second consecutive sweep of a regular season powerhouse.
If you learn Buck Showalter asked the Oriole front office for a team cardiologist after Friday night’s American League Championship Series opener, try not to be too surprised. You might, too, if you were the manager whose closer opened the ninth of a tie game by walking the bases loaded before getting a run-erasing force at the plate.
The one thing Detroit Tigers fans probably fear more than anything else happened Thursday night. The Baltimore Orioles got into the Tigers’ bullpen at all, never mind while holding a one-run lead.
The one thing Orioles fans knew above all else going in was that their power game was probably their most obvious asset, assuming they didn’t run into pitchers who could tie them up. Who knew the Orioles could perform any impression of the Kansas City Royals, never mind the one they performed in the bottom of the eighth, after homering their way for the most part to that one-run lead?
Don’t be surprised if the word “defiance” turns up on Baltimore Orioles’ caps or uniform sleeves somewhere during this postseason. Their very season seems to define it, and the way they pushed the Texas Rangers out of it seems to redefine it.
My God, the Rangers even managed to load the pads on Oriole closer Jim Johnson with two out in the bottom of the ninth and David Murphy coming up, and all they could do was watch in mute horror when Murphy’s fly settled into Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth’s glove for the game, 5-1.
Ubaldo Jimenez got a five-game suspension for drilling Troy Tulowitzki on the first pitch Sunday. The Players’ Association intends to back him as he appeals it. They are actually right about this. This turns out not to have been a mere sticks-and-stones issue. The backstory is Tulowitzki’s public criticism of Jimenez’s public gripe that the Rockies—who traded him to the Cleveland Indians during last season—offered and signed Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to big-dollar extensions after signing him to a mere “team-friendly” deal but not thinking of a comparable extension after he had his big year. Tulowitzki suggested once or twice recently that “a certain point (comes) in this game where you go play and you shut your mouth. And you don’t worry about what other people are doing.” He may have been absolutely right. Jimenez may have been absolutely wrong to fret over one or another man’s deal compared to his own. His pitching in 2011 would certainly suggest how wrong he was.