Hello again everyone from the sun, fun capital of the Midwest, Southeast Michigan! Yep, the sun shines here at least one day a month until summer, at which time the weather magically changes and becomes a truly wonderful environment to live it. And I’m waiting for summer!!!
Speaking of summer, or at least the Boys Of Summer, wasn’t that a heart-breaker last night? I stayed up ’til the last pitch. Freakin’ last pitch! A 5-3, 13 inning loss! I wanted to blame someone for the loss, big time. There were quite a few choices, as any of you who watched the game can attest. What I didn’t want to do was to come across as a blow-hard, as it was pretty easy to find enough of them spouting venom last night and into this morning. So, after a good four hours of sleep (OK, three really, but who’s counting ), who do I think is to blame? Let’s look at the main suspects:
Mr. Linebrink, attempting to substitute for Peter Moylan as the seventh inning guy, gave up a fly ball. Well, he’s always given up lots of fly balls. This one was a long one. In fact, a very long one that went into the seats. Well, he’s always given up lots of HR’s. And, obviously, this HR was the one that lost the lead for the team. Well, check out his 5+ ERA. While you’re at it, check out his ERA from last year, too, as at age 34 he’s probably not getting better. I did. I concluded that what happened to him is something that will likely happen to him regularly. I guess there was no reason to be angry with him.
Man, did I ever want to be pissed at him. Those of you watching the game will remember that he was brought in to run for Chipper in the 12th after Chipper hit a lead-off double (the 500th of his career, by the way). Brian McCann, batting next, hit a little dribbler to the first base side of the mound. The Padres’ pitcher, Cory Luebke, made a nice play to field the ball and threw to third, where Hicks was called out, effectively killing the Braves’ chance to score. I wanted to scream at the TV that you either had to break on contact or else wait and make sure that the ball got past the pitcher before taking off for third. It looked to me like Hicks hesitated just a bit, then took off. Joe Simpson, base-running guru, said that he would have been out on that play too, as he would have done the same thing. I’m still not sure, but I am pretty sure that Chipper would not have made the same mistake. And, while Hicks is indeed much faster than Chipper, Chipper has already shown that he can score from second on a single. Plus, taking Chipper out guarantees only that you won’t have him around to hit again. So, I guess that I really can’t be too mad at Hicks; he’s fast and he lacks experience and did what most guys with his background would have done. Rats!
Cristhian just kept popping into my “anger zone”. After pitching two solid innings and making me forget (a little) about his performance in the Dodgers’ series, Fredi left him in the game to attempt to bunt McLouth to second base after Nate’s lead-off single. He did get the bunt down, sort of. Displaying a form no Little Leaguer would want to emulate, he kind of took a little swat at the ball from a bunting position. The ball went straight to the pitcher, quickly. The only question left was whether the Padres would turn a double play. I gave Martinez “brownie points” for hustle, as he beat out the relay. He quickly returned to the “anger zone”, though. On the next play, Prado hit a soft fly to the right field line. The Padres right fielder Chris Denorfia caught the ball, though I guess Martinez was fooled. I say I guess he was fooled, because he didn’t take off for second, nor did he go back to first. He basically stood a few feet off the bag, watching the throw come back in. At the last moment he seemed to figure out what was going on and tried to get back to the base. No luck, as he was called out. But, to my amazement, Cristhian wasn’t done for the night. Fredi sent him back out for a third inning! This in spite of what happened the last time he was left out there when he was fatigued. I know that Fredi’s options weren’t pretty at that point (Sherrill, Asencio, and an overused Kimbrel), but if you’re afraid to use certain pitchers, why are they still on the roster, especially when better options are available (see this for an example). The end result was that Martinez gave up another walk off homer in extra innings. Sheesh! I have to admit, I am a bit peeved at him. His is a major league player. He should know how to bunt. He should know that you are fair game to be called out if you aren’t standing on a base. But I’m not too mad AT HIM about the home run. I don’t think he should have been out there for a third inning, especially after what just happened in the top half of the inning. Just what we needed out there: a tired, rookie reliever who just went through back to back confidence-crushing, attention-sapping plays. Not to mention one who just gave up the winning extra-inning home run a couple of days ago.
Enough! I won’t even talk about the anemic Braves offense. I’ll stop here. I want to know who, if anyone, you think deserves the ire of the fans. I think you can tell by what is written between the lines where I think it belongs. But if you all will share your thoughts, I’ll elaborate further on mine. OK?