Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back to losing the close ones

I trust Dayton, but Buddy Bell? Not convinced. I know he's the kind of "baseball guy" that baseball people like, but his baseball managing -- to say nothing of his track record -- leaves a lot to be desired.

Take Monday's 12-5 blowout loss. Bell removes Zack Greinke after he gives up the grand slam (on a 1-2 pitch, so he almost escaped the inning without any damage) and after he has already gotten two outs. I can understand Bell's thinking: we need to strap on the tourniquet ASAP. But why does he then lop off the arm altogether, inducing massive bleeding and cardiac shock, by calling on Jason Standridge? Wouldn't it have been better to stick with Greinke, see if he calms down and takes the game to the fifth?

I have nothing against Standridge personally. It's just that someday I hope to learn more about him, like why he's in the Majors. His WHIP the last two years were 1.74 and 1.66. It's 2.40 now. In his three appearances this year, he's given up a run in every inning he's pitched except one -- one meaningless donut in a 9-1 loss at Toronto nine days ago. In 6.2 innings, he's given up 10 runs (though to be fair, three of them were unearned). Ladies and gentlemen, your long reliever.

But this is about Bell, not the bullpen. Greinke should have been left in, especially since the bases were empty and there were two outs, affording him a fresh start. Instead, Bell pulls the hook, and at the sight of Standridge the Tigers' eyes grow wide, they rise on their fores and before you know it, they've put up five runs in three innings. It was a pity, too, since the Royals' bats were just beginning to show signs of life.

Wait, there's more. With the score 9-5 in the bottom of the 8th, Bell summons Joakim Soria, the best arm in the pen, followed by Jimmy Gobble, the Royals' only active left-handed reliever. The game's good as done at 9-5, considering the Tigers still had Fernando Rodney and Todd Jones in the pen. Why call on your best relievers here? Was Buddy Bell lured into a contest of one-upsmanship because Jim Leyland sent out Joel Zumaya? In any case, naturally, in last night's game, clinging to a 6-5 lead, Bell goes to the only options available: Joel Peralta, who blows the save, and David Riske, who loses the game.

Let's take small consolation in that David DeJesus and Reggie Sanders continued raking the ball, DeJesus especially, who hit HR No. 3. And that Detroit didn't hit a grand slam. The three-game grand-slam-allowed streak is over, thankfully.

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