Saturday, May 15, 2010

Setting up the slam

"We're always aware of the numbers. I know (Alex Rodriguez) has been good against Matty (Guerrier). Sometimes you can't do anything about the numbers. We're going to go with our best pitcher at the time."
Ron Gardenhire

Really, once Derek Jeter's hit caromed off Scott Baker's leg and into short right field — giving new meaning to the term "leg double" — there were no real good choices for Gardenhire.

We know what he did in the seventh inning Friday with a 4-3 lead and Yankees on second and third, no outs.

1) He brought in Brian Duensing, lefty, who got Brett Gardner to pop up to short left. One down.

2) He had Duensing walk Mark Teixeira intentionally to load the bases.

3) He brought in Guerrier to face Rodriguez — who hit the second pitch over the left field fence.

Now, lets talk about those numbers. The ones getting the most attention in these second-guess post-mortems are these: Rodriguez was 4-for-6 lifetime against Guerrier — with three homers.

Now he's 5-for-7 with four homers against Guerrier.

Some other numbers: Teixeira is 1-for-5 in his career against Duensing. And Robinson Cano, the missing piece of this equation — the man hitting behind Rodriguez — entered the game 1-for-5 against Guerrier, 1-for-4 against Duensing.

I don't blame Gardenhire for not wanting to pitch to both Teixeira and A-Rod in such an obvious game situation. I understand his faith in Guerrier, and recognize that four homers in seven at-bats isn't something easily done in batting practice. Gardenhire played for the double play, and he got burned.

But still, I think the smarter move was to have Duensing pitch to Teixeira, walk Rodriguez, and face Cano. Of course, that requires getting two of the Yankees 3-4-5 men out rather than one — assuming they could get the DP on Rodriguez.

Granted: You can't have Duensing face Rodriguez with the game on the line.

You can't have Guerrier face him either.


  1. Gardy has to trust his best reliever in that situation. And Guerrier served up a terrible pitch. But all the grand slam second-guessing overshadows the real story of the game: having Burnett on the ropes and letting him wriggle off.

  2. I'm curious, what are A-rod's numbers against Duensing? Unless the numbers are atrocious (couldn't be any worse than Guerrier's), what's wrong with Duensing pitching to A-rod?

    Duensing isn't a baby. He's been in pressure situations before. It's not like this was a playoff game or anything.

  3. Millie, A-Rod vs. Duensing: 1-for-3 with a walk. But I'd rip Gardy harder for letting a lefty face A-Rod in a game situation than going with Guerrier.

    Chris, I guarantee you: Earl Weaver would not allow Guerrier to face A-Rod in a situation that meant anything.

  4. Ed, are you saying that Weaver wouldn't have let A-Rod beat him? Or that the matchup with Guerrier is so decidedly in A-Rod's favor?

  5. I am saying that Weaver would not let Guerrier pitch to A-Rod in a game situation. (I base this declaration off what he wrote in "Weaver on Strategy," a top-rate book on managing. He'd either use somebody else or pitch around A-Rod (akin to my "use Duensing to pitch to Teixiera and Cano" notion).The only way Guerrier would get to face A-Rod is if A-Rod can homer and it won't change the game.

    Three homers (and a double) in six at-bats was decisive enough for Weaver. Maybe four homers (and a double) in seven at-bats is decisive enough for Gardy.

  6. Father's Day is coming up, maybe we should pass the batting helmet and send Gardy a copy of that book. He could learn a lot about the utility of platooning from Weaver, too, not to mention a smaller bullpen.

  7. Here's the title for your next post, Ed: Setting up the slam 2.