Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Notes, quotes and comment (Game Six edition)

And so there will be a Game Seven. Justin Verlander wasn't bad, but he cracked for two runs in the sixth and that was all the Dodgers needed, although they got more off the Houston bullpen.

This, I believed coming into the game, was the Astros' best opportunity to wrap up the series, Verlander being the workhorse that could protect the softness of the late-inning bullpen. It didn't work.

The good news for Houston: The Astros avoided using either Lance McCullers Jr or Brad Peacock. McCullers will start Game Seven tonight. Peacock is quite likely his tag-team starter, although Charlie Morton and Dallas Kuechel will be available.

And I can't shake the notion that Verlander might declare himself ready to pull a Randy Johnson, available to relieve on no-days rest.


Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was certainly consistent. Rich Hill was allowed to throw just 58 pitches, and then in came Kenta Maeda for the fourth time in the series and Brandon Morrow for the sixth. And Kenley Jansen pitched the final two innings.

The LA bullpen has been worn to a frazzle by a month of short starts. Monday's off day appears to have revitalized Maeda, Morrow and Jansen, but Roberts certainly isn't going to give Yu Darvish a long leash in Game Seven -- and there isn't an intervening off day for his bullpen crew.


If (when) Morrow pitches tonight, he will tie Darold Knowles, a left-handed reliever of my youth, for the record in games pitched in one World Series. Knowles worked in all seven games of the 1973 series for Oakland against the Mets. Indeed, he got the final out -- relieved Rollie Fingers with two outs and a man on with a 5-2 lead after Fingers had gone 3.1 innings and got a popup to end it.

Knowles pitched for all three of the World Series seasons of the Mustache Gang dynasty in Oakland (1972-74), but the only Series he actually appeared in was the 1973 one. Seven games, 6.1 innings, one unearned run allowed, two saves.

His career is fun to look at. In 1970, for example, pitching for the Washington Senators (and managed by Ted Williams) he had 27 saves and a 2.09 ERA -- and went 2-14. One factor in that record is probably the nine unearned runs charged to him, which is a lot.

Fingers led the A's in innings pitched in that 1973 series, 13.2 -- one more out than Catfish Hunter recorded. And Tug McGraw, the Mets' top fireman, also threw 13.2 innings. (Tom Seaver and Jon Matlack each worked more innings than McGraw, however). Ken Holtzman started three games for the A's and pitched a total of 10.2 innings. Short starts indeed.

Moral of story: Bullpenning in the World Series is not new. But nobody expected Fingers, McGraw and Knowles to throw with the velocity demanded of Jansen, Morrow and Ken Giles, and the playoffs didn't stretch out for a full month.

1 comment:

  1. Those three consecutive Oakland A's championships were highlights of my early baseball memories. Loved that team, so entertaining and versatile and great.