Thursday, October 13, 2005

ALCS Game 2

Boy, what a shame that last night's Chicago/Anaheim game had to end with a bad call. Yeah, I think it was a pretty bad call. Obviously, there was no real way for the umpire to tell if the ball hit the dirt, but he should have been decisive in his call. The crew chief, who was at 3rd base, confirmed the call the home plate umpire made. I feel good that there was a consultation. Honestly, we can't expect every call to be correct. However, we should expect each call to be enforced professionally, whether correct or not. The umpire's behavior last night was amateur.

It's not like that call caused the winning play to cross the plate, however. That job fell to Joe Crede, who deposited a fat 0-2 offering into the leftfield corner. What a horrible, horrible pitch by Kelvim Escobar, who had pitched brilliantly before that fateful pitch to Crede. His splitter was unhittable last night...why on earth would he throw Crede a 2-seam fastball? Especially one that was belt high and right down the middle? You have to wonder if catcher Chris Paul, normally the 3rd string catcher, had anything to do with that pitch call or if it was Scioscia from the dugout. That's the thing--Crede is a fastball hitter! Why throw the one pitch that he's most likely to hit on 0-2?

The bad call somewhat obscured Mark Buehrle's masterful game, although I don't even know if that's fair, when articles about said obscurity are plastered all over ESPN.com. Buehrle looked like Tom Glavine in his prime, changing speeds, hitting his spots, and living up to his reputation as the most efficient pitcher in baseball. 99 pitches, 71 strikes. Beautiful.

When your starter pitches that well, you should win the game going away. Not the White Sox! A series of baserunning blunders and more questionable bunt calls by Ozzie prevented any chance at a big inning. Hey, third base coach! You don't send a guy home from third base with NO OUTS, especially if he's LYING ON THE GROUND. Why have Tadahito Iguchi bunt in the FIRST INNING? They played for one run in the first--they got it--and didn't get another until the ninth! In playoff games, your object should be to go for as many big innings as possible! Iguchi had a .342 OBP this year, one of the tops on the team! Bunting gives you about a .005 OBP! Joe Crede is lucky he had the game-winning hit, or else he would have been guilty of the worst gaffe of all of them. On a liner like that, you're not going to score anyway, and even if he catches it, you're still going to score from second on a 2-out hit, because you'd be running on contact! There is NO EXCUSE for getting doubled off second base. Trust me, it happened to me, and my coach never let me hear the end of it. Aggressive baserunning should be used when it forces the defense to make a mistake. Even if the ball had dropped, Crede would have stopped at third, and there would have been no chance to force a bad throw.

The Angels? Stupid sacrifice call in the 8th. Adam Kennedy hit .300 and had a .354 OBP this season. What's more, he only grounded into 5 double plays in 460 plate appearances! Why are managers so frightened of the double play? Kennedy has a 1/3 chance of getting on base, and a 1/92 chance of grounding into a double play. If Kennedy were a weaker hitter, then I would endorse the bunt call in the late innings. But even in that situation, you can't have a .354 OBP guy bunt! Tell me again why he's hitting 9th in the order? And why Orlando ".309 OBP" Cabrera hits 2nd? Cabrera should be the guy hitting 9th, and he should be the guy bunting.

Where are you Vlad Guerrero? I love you, but you're coming up just as small as A-Rod in the playoffs. It seems like he's hitting scared. I don't know whether to credit the pitching or his approach. I didn't watch him at all during the season, so I have no real comparison. All I know is, he'd better wake up soon, because the Angels can't rely on Molina and Anderson every night. They can be pitched to. Supposedly Vlad cannot be pitched to, but now I'm not so sure. Pitches he should be driving out of the park are being driven into the ground.

No way I can write anything about the NLCS, though thankfully it will receive my full attention tonight at the Baseball Prospectus bash. Damn you MLB, for scheduling simultaneous playoff games! All I can say is, I'm guess Andy Pettitte's cutter wasn't cutting, and Reggie Sanders is a beast. That is all.

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