Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Avoiding the Inevitable

Last night's Twins game was the first I've attended this season, and aside from the 15 or so text messages I received at the end of the game containing some variation of "How about that Crede, eh??" after the Twins' third baseman delivered a walk-off RBI double in the eleventh, the memory that sticks with me the most is the horrible managerial decision that nearly cost the Twins a win.

There are plenty of occasions where I disagree with a coaching decision in a baseball game, but it's pretty rare that I am absolutely, unequivocally positive that the wrong move was made. That happened tonight, though. With Glen Perkins pitching in the eighth inning and working on a second straight gem, the Twins held a 2-1 lead with two outs and the tying run on second base. Vernon Wells, a righty and one of the Blue Jays' better hitters, was at the plate, and Perkins had fallen behind 2-0. Rick Anderson came out to talk to Perkins, and it seemed obvious how he would advise his pitcher. On deck was Adam Lind, a left-handed hitter with a .241/293/.374 career line against southpaws, so the clear strategy was to have Perkins stay away from the strike zone on his last two pitches and walk Wells, filling first base and taking on Lind in a much more favorable matchup. Instead, Perkins came right at Wells, surrending a game-tying RBI single on his very next pitch to tie the game. The Twins still won and Perkins still finished with another excellent outing, but that was a potentially disastrous managerial decision that really cannot be excused.

Someone sitting near us at the game last night called me a "Negative Nancy." I realize this post has done nothing to dispel that nickname. Oh well. Hopefully the Twins pull off a more convincing victory tonight and leave me with nothing to complain about.

17 comments:

ubelmann said...

Obviously you are not Negative Nancy--you are Negative Nick. :)

I hadn't thought about the issue of Perkins pitching around Wells since I was so focused on the idea that Nathan should just be brought in to get four outs. Perkins had done his share and hitters improve against pitchers by about 10 points of wOBA each time through the order.Crain was available for two full innings (12 pitches in the 10th and 16 pitches in the 11th) and I see no real reason that Nathan couldn't have been available for 1 1/3 innings. He's by far our best pitcher at missing bats and I think that's what you want with a runner on second protecting a one-run lead.

Things worked out in the end, but like you, I think the process could have been improved.

Marty said...

I think what you say is very valid, though more alarming to me was the bases-loaded 6th inning where we failed to score, a lot like the previous evening where we blew a couple of run opportunities with no-outs and guys at third base... This is something the Twins are usually especially good at, and they've been very disappointing so far.

Things did work out well in the end, but we've only had one 'comfortable' victory so far this season, and both Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young need some more batting practice!

Anonymous said...

Why would you put the go ahead run on base in the 8th inning of a 1 run game to face Lind? NTM that Lind is hitting like .700 on theyear and even his outs have be solid hit balls.

Also I don't know if anyone has noticed but Perkins had just breezed through 7.2 innings with ease, let him go out there and face Wells.

Everyone bitches that Gardy overthinks and lives by the right/lefty matchups. He had a pitcher that just breezed through 7+ innings and was letting his guy pitch.

Kris said...

I agree with ubelmann, I think not using Nathan in the situation was the bigger mistake.

Coming into the game our best pitcher, Nathan, had just 2 appearances. Considering how shallow the bullpen is this year, they're going to need to use Nathan outside of 9th inning save situations.

Russ said...

put the go-ahead run on? save your second guessing for your blog. people don't go to games to hear a know-it-all predict the past. i'm glad whoever was around you called you on your armchair managering.

thrylos98 said...

that was another stupid move by Gardy (same as the 2 previous games, keeping Slowey in half-an inning too long and keeping Liriano in another walk with the bases loaded too long).

Perkins showed signs of fatigue in the 7th: His velocity was down by 2-3 mph and his fastball was low in the zone. No good. I hope that Gardy sticks with Crain in the 8th and Nathan in the 9th, unless there is a shutout going on...

USAFChief said...

I also would prefer my manager not put the lead run on base intentionally in the 8th inning.

The bigger crime, as pointed out above, was letting Perkins pitch to Wells at all.

He'd done his job. I'd have preferred Nathan, or if there is some contractual or legal reason why Nathan can't get 4 outs, Crain, pitch to Wells.

On a positive note, Crede's defense so far is a good sign his back is healthy for at least the first week.

Josh said...

If we're going to pay Joe Nathan this much money and he's this freakin' good a reliever, then we should use him as a true Fireman and stop doing this BS "closers only come in for the 9th inning with no one on base and in a save situation" that everyone seems to live by now.

I don't care if Twitchy might not like it that much, I don't care if it's not what Gardy "does", it's the right thing.

John said...

Since you were there, I'll ask. Was Nathan warmed up?

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what you tell Perk in that situation. To be honest, I probably bring in Crain for the 8th. Regardless, a 3-2 win is still a win when the season ends, Nancy.

Border Ball said...

I hate to be this guy but . . .

If anyone is interested in how five of the Twins top prospects (and others as the season wears on) are doing in Beloit this summer, check out Border Ball.

I will be attending about a game a week, so expect regular Saturday updates.

I have been granted pre-game club house access to players/personnel, I will also be next to the dugout during games shooting photos with a digital Nikon SLR and some nice telephoto lenses.

The blog will comprise good photos, interviews, updates on call-ups and send-downs, and especially analysis on how your future Twins are developing.

My first post-game write-up will be posted this Staurday (April 18).

Sorry Nick, I couldn't think of how else to let Twins fans Know.

Love the blog, keep up the good work.

Nick N. said...

Yeesh, it's been a while since the comments section has been this feisty. I've missed it. :)

The points about Wells being the go-ahead run are not without validity, and I'm usually not a fan of putting extra runners on base intentionally, but to me this situation was a no-brainer. Perkins was already down 2-0 in the count, Wells has been great so far this year and has always clubbed left-handed pitching, and Lind -- while off to a very good start in his own right -- has always been significantly weaker against left-handed pitchers. You're taking a risk by putting Wells on base representing the go-ahead run, but in my mind the chance to face a left-handed hitter with a fresh count and a force-out at any bag easily outweighs that risk.

Bringing in Nathan would have been a fine choice also, but I've pretty much given up on the idea of Gardenhire ever showing an ounce of creativity when it comes to using his best reliever.

Everyone bitches that Gardy overthinks and lives by the right/lefty matchups.I never really bitch about that. This was just a bad tactical decision.

Perkins showed signs of fatigue in the 7th: His velocity was down by 2-3 mph and his fastball was low in the zone. No good.That's a good observation that I didn't really pick up on. Perkins still looked like he was going strong there to me, and frankly I can't blame Gardy for leaning a bit more on his starters considering the way the bullpen has performed up to this point.

Since you were there, I'll ask. Was Nathan warmed up?I don't really remember. There were definitely a couple relievers warming up during the eighth inning, but I can't say whether one of them was Nathan. I think so.

Border Ball: No problem at all. I look forward to following your reports this summer!

Border Ball said...

Cool, Thanks for the support!

greenmachine said...

"put the go-ahead run on? save your second guessing for your blog. people don't go to games to hear a know-it-all predict the past."

Yeah, everyone knows that there is a strong American sports tradition of respectful, supportive silence in the stands for the authorities of the game (namely the manager and umpires). No honest sports fan would be so arrogant as to, say, boo what he perceives as a bad call, or to disagree with the skipper out loud! Sure, some of us in our weaker moments may feel these base instincts, but the gentleman restrains himself, and instead applauds softly and appreciatively for the good sirs kind enough to offer their services in the pursuit of baseball.

Twin #1 said...

Everyone is talking about Joe Nathan not being used enough, but Gardy did something he failed to do many times last year: he DID bring him in when the game was TIED in the 9th inning. Baby steps--before he comes in before the 9th inning, he has to come in during the 9th when it's close, but not a save situation.

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