ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Giants – 08/20/2003
Sure enough, two +5 ERA pitchers go at it, and we get a pitchers’ duel. Same thing happened a few Reynolds starts ago in St. Louis. Reynolds didn’t allow a run until the eighth, threw 100 pitches exactly, struck out three with no walks, and gets a no-decision because the Braves couldn’t score. And John Smoltz is a hothouse flower who can’t pitch unless the Braves have a lead in the ninth, so Kevin Gryboski is allowed to load the bases while getting one out and then let the winning run score.
This is another of those games that the Braves should not have lost, but deserved to. Runners second and third, one out in the first, no runs score. They get a run in the third. Two walks in the fourth, the starter leaves with an injury, no runs score. Two hits in the sixth, two walks in the seventh, two (infield) hits in the ninth, no runs any of them. Bad, bad baseball. The Braves continue to be unable to score runs off opposing relievers, no matter of what quality. It’s very frustrating.
Marcus Giles missed the game after falling ill during batting practice. DeRosa was 0-5 and fell down trying to make the play on the tying hit in the eighth. Throw in that Sheffield had three hits (extending his streak; by the time Pujols had hit in 24 games in a row he’d been anointed the Greatest Hitter Ever) you can draw your own conclusions about what would have happened had Marcus played.
The Phillies and Marlins both lost, so the Braves still have the same huge lead. The wildcard race is now completely incoherent… Another middle of the night affair tonight, Ramirez and Schmidt. Oh, boy, that’s not good at all.
I don’t know what happened last night to yesterday’s entries. I’m backing up the whole thing after I publish this.
I figure that losing this series to the Giants will validate to ESPN why the Giants are #1 in their rankings, no matter how many games they are behind the Braves.
I’ve really had it with Bobby’s stupid managing, and I’m not going to buy this ‘you just gotta trust him, he’s been successful for so many years’ any more. He probably cost us the game tueday, and he almost certainly cost us the game yesterday.
Jim Caple of ESPN.com wrote a great article about closers a week or so ago, saying that ‘the save is the only situation in baseball where a manager makes moves based solely on a stat’. That is entirely true with Bobby. And on top of that, he refuses to let his closer pitch in the 8th inning no matter how ‘well-rested’ he is.
First, that runner on 3rd, 1 out situation in the 8th. Question:what is it you need badly in that situation? Right, a strikeout. Next question: who does NOT strike out batters? That is correct, Shane Reynolds. But, who DOES strike out batters, hasn’t pitched in a week and is just begging to come into the game? You got it, John Smoltz!! So, here’s the big question: who does a manager with a clear mind bring into the game? Well, you get the point…
Next situation, bases loaded, one out, bottom of the 9th. Now if a game ever needs to be saved, it is right here. But again, Bobby just watches how some lesser reliever gives the game away while his best reliever sits on the bench. Now I know what Bobby was thinking, get a double play to get out of it, after all it’s ground ball Gryboski on the mound, all that stuff. Bullshit! I can recall maybe 2-3 situations where he got a double play in such situations, and ten times as many situations where he gave up a ton of runs. Why Bobby still has faith in this guy is beyond me, and I’m starting to really question his sanity.
OK, I’m done venting now.
Good points, Steffen, but ‘the save is the only situation in baseball where a manager makes moves based solely on a stat’ argument was made repeatedly by guys like Bill James, Rob Neyer and the Baseball Prospectus crew first, echoed on boards like this for years, then picked up by mainstream writers like Caple about a year ago. Welcome to the party guys.
Yesterday I thought it reasonable to give King a shot at Bonds as a move in prep for the postseason. But Smoltz’s continued absence from games – only 3 2/3 IP in August – is starting to get a little worrying. I hope he’s not hurting at all. But my bet is he’s not, an the save stat just hasn’t gotten him into a game.
I would guess that Bobby is still thinking back to last week where he brought Smoltz into a tie game to face Pujols and Pujols homered. Thus, the “closers can only pitch in save situations” theory becomes self-fulfilling…
7 losses or blow saves, 11 double plays (too lazy to see how many of those came in saving run situations).
Grybowski Inherited Runs Prevented: 1.3 (65 runners)
Smoltz Inherited Runs Prevented: -1.7 (19 runners)
Admittedly Smoltz’s number of runners doesn’t approach Grybowski’s. But it doesn’t seem so cut and dry that Smoltz should’ve been in the game. Saying that you can’t recall situations where he made a difference is anecdotal evidence at best, and at worst a poor argument.
You’re right, Creg, I didn’t mean to say that Caple was nearly as bright a baseball person as the guys you mentioned, and I am aware of the fact that he didn’t present any new ideas in his article. It was just the most recent piece that I could recall on this issue and it’s easy to access at ESPN.com if someone happened to be interested.
If you look at the article on Smoltz at mlb.com, you’ll see that Bobby and John got together decided that it would be in the team’s best interest if he did not go more than one inning the rest of the year. Smoltz said that if the Braves only had a two or three game lead in the division, he’d be in there pitching the eighth. But with the colossal lead, they’ve apparently decided upon resting his arm unless there is a one inning save situation.
It’s still a bit puzzling. I also believe there may be some sort of minor hidden injury they’re not telling us about.
And for the record, I thought Grybo pitched fine. An uncalled error on Fick, a bloop single, and a DP grounder where the Braves mistakenly didn’t play the IF back. That IF positioning was the big ‘mistake’ by Bobby last night. Reynolds made only one bad pitch the whole game and would have been out of the 8th if DeRo didn’t slip (not to mention the bad call at the plate).
Benito Santiago and Andres Galarraga are demons who derive their power from Atlanta pitching.
Smoltz with: Runners on:.155 Avg,.191 OBP, 84 AB
RISP: .136 Avg, .188 OBP, 44 AB
Gryboski with:Runners on:.293 Avg, .373 OBP,92 AB
RISP: .258 Avg, .375 OBP, 66 AB
Now who would you rather have in the game in a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the 9th?
Plus, Gryboski isn’t exactly a control artist, as evidenced by 20 his 20 walks in 39.2 IP, so pitching with the bases loaded is not an ideal situation for him.
I continue to be amazed by the lousiness of MLB umpiring. Bonds was clearly safe on that 6-5-3 DP last night, the crew seemed mistified by Santiago’s “triple” – for those who didn’t see the game, in the eighth Santiago hit a blast to left that got over Chipper’s glove and appeared to be a homerun, but somehow it hit the top of the wall and came back in play by the time Chipper figured out it wasn’t gone Santiago was on third. The umpires looked totally confused and ruled it a triple ejecting Felipe Alou in the process – then the one that changed the outcome of the game. Galarraga pops up to short right but DeRosa slips down chasing the ball and it falls safely. Santiago breaks for home and Sheffield throws a laser beam to the plate to get him. He was clearly out watching it live, he was even more clearly out in slo-mo. The ball beat him, Blanco had the plate blocked, there was really no way he was anything other than out. Of course this happened right after the Santiago “triple” and so the ump is feeling sympathetic to the Giants and calls him safe. A classic NBA-style makeup call. So it’s 1-1 which means no Smoltz and the game to the Giants. It was really the worst kind of blown call. One that was obviously wrong and essentially changed who won the game. I can’t believe Bobby didn’t get thrown out arguing it.
I halfway expected to wake up this morning and still see the Braves-Giants game underway, the Giants up 187 to 1 and still batting in the bottom of the ninth.
And Gryboski was still on the mound, Bobby still trying to coax that douple play grounder to end the inning.
In fairness to Gryboski, he did induce a cinch double-play grounder. IF, that is, the infield was playing back. My thought process after the walk went something like this:
1. why is Gryboski still in?
2. Oh, Bobby must be trying to get that double play.
3. But the infield isn’t at double-play depth!
4. Look, there’s the DP grounder. Alfonzo is such a sucker.
5. Game over, boo on Cox.