I’m going to keep it short tonight, since I’m writing for the first time on an Ipad, and it’s honestly a bit weird. So let’s talk about the only thing worth talking about – the total meltdown by the bullpen in the 8th inning. Jeff Weaver, James McDonald, Jack Taschner, and Travis Schlichting combined to allow four runs on four walks (one intentional) and a hit, blowing the game wide open. Only McDonald wasn’t a complete disaster, since his walk was intentional and he induced a sacrifice fly otherwise.
It’s no surprise to see the non-Broxton and Kuo contingent fail, though Weaver had been generally reliable, and in particular watching Taschner fail was basically the most predictable thing ever. Yet while its not Joe Torre’s fault that he’s been forced to have such poor options in the bullpen, he bears a large portion of the blame for having been in that situation in the first place.
After some early difficulty, Vicente Padilla was once again brilliant, striking out six without allowing a walk and at one point setting down seventeen in a row. He’d been so efficient, in fact, that he needed just 77 pitches to get through seven innings. Yet in the bottom of the 7th, Ronnie Belliard was sent out to hit for Padilla. Now, I get that you’re down by a run and you need to recoup that at some point, but we’re not talking about seeing Manny come off the bench with the bases loaded in the 9th inning. There were already two outs in the 7th, there was only a runner on first, and Belliard has been so bad that he’s barely more dangerous than Padilla at the plate at this point.
With Padilla pitching as well as he had been and the bullpen in such bad shape, you just have to leave him in there – the minor, minor improvement in the odds of scoring a run in that situation is far outweighed by the much higher probability of inferior relievers allowing runs that Padilla probably wouldn’t have, and that’s just what happened.
It’s not Torre’s fault that the bats didn’t make any noise, that Weaver couldn’t find the plate, or that Taschner is generally useless, of course. But it’s also hard for me to say he put the team in the best position to win, either.
Of course, the outcome of this one game is nothing compared to the incentive this might have given to Ned Colletti to go find a reliever no matter what the cost. That’s what worries me the most.
As noted in many places, Justin Miller was DFA’d in order to make room for young fireballer Kenley Jansen. I’m thrilled to see Jansen, who had been making AA batters look foolish. Not that I’ll shed a ton of tears over Miller, but the move does surprise me, as the club’s usual procedure would have been to option a Schlichting or a McDonald, in order to keep Miller under control. Miller had struck out over 11 per 9, so it’s not like he had been totally useless, either.