Oh, I just can’t wait for the inevitable stories to come out of this one, right? Some of our less-attentive friends are going to be jumping allll over George Sherrill for adding yet another failure to his long litany of them in this disastrous season.
First of all, please be sure to note that the two hits Sherrill allowed came on two ground ball singles which found their way through the infield. A few feet in either direction and the plays get made, and no one talks about George Sherrill at all. It’s not like he gave up two liners, hit a guy, and allowed a grand slam, despite what you may read elsewhere.
But this isn’t about George Sherrill, because if we’re talking about “adding yet another failure to his long litany of them in this disastrous season,” then you know we must be talking about Joe Torre’s bizarre usage of the bullpen. First, he yanks Vicente Padilla after just four innings. Padilla wasn’t on top of his game, having thrown 90 pitches, but he’d allowed two runs and struck out five, so he was hardly getting bombed out there. At the time, there were two men on with one out, but still: it was the fourth inning, and bringing in the long-dead Garret Anderson is hardly a marked improvement over Padilla, is it?
So then you’re forced to try to get five innings out of a struggling bullpen. Fortunately, James McDonald contributed two scoreless innings, and Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo each allowed a hit in one inning apiece. All fine.
Except when the Dodgers couldn’t score on Heath Bell in the 9th, they went to the bottom of the frame 2-2, and in trotted Sherrill. This is a massive mistake on two levels, first and foremost being that Jonathan Broxton should have entered in that situation. Broxton didn’t pitch yesterday and had thrown just ten pitches the day before; he was rested and available. Of all the silly things that managers do, this is the one that kills me the most: never bringing in their closer in the 9th inning of a tie game on the road. Does Joe not remember watching last weekend when Jerry Manuel gave a game away by doing the exact same thing – letting Oliver Perez blow a game while Francisco Rodriguez sat and watched?
Apparently not, because that’s what Torre did here; he brought in the Dodgers’ best Ollie Perez impersonator, and watched the Padres take the game while Broxton sat in the bullpen. Oh, he’ll give you some line about wanting to wait for a save situation to use Broxton, but that’s the same garbage we’ve been hearing for years: you can’t get a save if the game is already lost.
Secondly, and here’s the part that makes even less sense, George Sherrill has been atrocious all year. You don’t bring him into the 9th inning of a tie game, but you especially don’t bring him in to face a right handed hitter. I’ve said this so many times in recent weeks that I won’t even bother linking to it, but if there’s one way that Sherrill can help the team, it’s in that he can still be effective against lefties. Cover your eyes before I post these splits:
Yet the first batter in the 9th inning was Scott Hairston, a righty. He got a base hit. Lefty Tony Gwynn Jr. sacrificed him to second, and the Padres – who clearly had read the scouting reports – pinch-hit for Everth Cabrera with righty Oscar Salazar.
Before we go further, I just want to drive this point home:
At this point, you’d think – you’d pray – that Torre would have put down his Bigelow green tea and decided to do something to, you know, manage the team to a victory. Like bring in Jonathan Broxton, say.
But no. Sherrill remained in the game. Salazar bounced a grounder up the middle. And the Dodgers are further out of 1st place than they’ve been all season. And you wonder why I don’t want to see them trade for a starter. What we really need to see are losing teams who put their managers on the trade block, because that’s where the Dodgers really need an upgrade.
(I’d be remiss, of course, if I didn’t mention that the offense was pitiful once again. They struck out 13 times and managed only three hits, and even one of those was iffy because one of the various Hairstons completely butchered the Anderson stroke to left field. But at least Scott Podsednik looked gritty in going 0-3 with an error!)