Second Guessing the Second Guessing
I think Jim Caple probably said it best. Ron Gardenhire should have had someone warmed up. Nathan walked Cairo, but I think it was a combo of him trying to be too fine with a 9th batter and also tiring, which made it hard to be fine. Nathan admitted he should have basically served one up to Cairo. Most likely he’ll hit a harmless grounder to short anyway. If he gets that out, well the game probably ends differently.
Gardy had the choice of 3 risks: a tiring stud closer who has been in the playoffs, a lefty (J.C. Romero) who has been horrid for 4/5‘s of the season, including the last month, and a rookie (Jesse Crain) who has pitched well, but he’s still a rookie. We’ve seen how rookies have performed in their first appearances this series (Lew Ford, Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau). He should have had Crain ready when Nathan walked Miguel Cairo while trying to be too fine.
David: Jacque Jones not being ready to fire the ball to home plate is probably the single, dumbest play I've ever seen a player make in the postseason. Completely unacceptable.
Huh? Did anyone see the “most amazing play ever” in the ALDS a few years ago. The play where Jeter fields a wild throw from the outfield on the other side of the first base line, relays it home, and Jorge Posada takes out Jason Giambi (A’s) who didn't slide? I think Giambi’s play isn’t considered the dumbest play because people want to believe that Jeter is the only one who could make that play. What about Orlando Cabrera? Omar Vizquel? Heck, ARod?
I agree that Jones was completely out of position. It looked like he assumed Jeter wouldn’t tag. More correctly, he assumed the man-at-third wouldn’t tag, because he obviously didn’t know Jeter was there. Jeter will tag on that play every time. Again, I agree that Jones wasn’t prepared. I can imagine he is somehow mentally fatigued at this point.
Yet, even though Jones could probably fire a ball to home in the air from his position in right field, there was probably a 25% chance he actually throws it online. Jones does have a pretty strong arm, but he also would have had a 25% chance of hitting the netting behind home plate. I don’t buy that his throw would be Jeter by six feet. I could be wrong about that.
My biggest Gardenhire complaint is the starting of Shannon-one-leg-no-arm-Stewart in left field. There’s a 50/50 chance Lew Ford gets to ARod’s ground rule double in the 12th inning and catches it. In game one, Cairo hit a double that Lew Ford easily gets to.
I actually blame Stewart for a lot of this. When he came back with unhealed plantar fasciitis, he should have told his manager that he was willing to DH more often if it helped the team. Why didn’t he do this? Maybe he feels he won’t hit as well at DH? Or maybe he’s just too quiet to speak up? Who knows.
But at the end of the season Stewart tweaked his hamstring. Now he is without a foot AND a leg (not to mention an arm that I could easily outthrow). It’s time for Gardenhire to make a decision here. Stewart is getting slower by the day with these injuries, especially in the cold, outdoor weather. Of course, when he decides to put Lew in the field for the first time in the series and Lew gets nervous and misses a play because, well, it’s his first time in the field, don’t be surprised, either.
Others are knocking the start of Kubel at DH. This is a case where it appears Gardenhire really looked at the factors and made the right decision. Who’s to say Ford’s jitters would be cured during game two? He would have been less nervous, but Kubel raked Lieber the week before and Lieber had horrible stats against lefties.
I simply love how many of the pundits believe this series is over. Do you really think Silva will pitch as bad as he did in his last start against the Yankees? Do you really think Santana will pitch any worse than he did when he SHUT OUT the Yankees? And there is no way Radke gives up 5 runs again if it gets to a game 5. Yankees in 4? No way.