After Bobby Crosby’s bases clearing triple, the Mariners had a 9.2% chance of winning. Heading into the bottom of the 8th inniing, the Angels had a 98.7% chance of winning. If the Mariners win the division, I guarantee that tonight will be pointed to as the turning point. The Angels were marching towards victory, only to have their closer give it away. The M’s were marching towards defeat, only to win on one of the most ridiculous at-bats you’ve ever seen.
I mean, where do you start talking about this game? Some terrible pitching on both sides, only exacerbated by the worst job of umpiring I’ve ever seen? Or how Branyan thumping another left-handed pitcher? Wak’s inexplicable usage of Sean White? Shawn Kelley with some absolutely brilliant pitching? The Lopez at-bat? That game was just a circus.
I want to point out a few things, though, that don’t fall into the jubilation “holy crap how did we win that game” category.
I wasn’t too worried about Morrow before, but I am now. The only way Wak’s bullpen usage makes any sense at all is if Morrow wasn’t available and he was saving Aardsma for the ninth. Otherwise, umm, Sean White in the 7th – maybe you can explain as the hot hand or something, but Sean White starting the 8th inning of a tie game at home on the day after the team didn’t play? That’s just nutty. Once Kelley got through the 8th, if Morrow was available, I’d have to think he’d have been throwing. If the team scores in the 8th, it’s a save situation. If they don’t score, there won’t be any save situations for the rest of the night, so you might as well use him to keep the game tied.
While we’re talking about Wak decisions, I’d love it if one of the beat writers (hint hint) would take advantage of their pre-game talks with him and get him to explain his “I don’t pinch hit” rationale. On the season, we’ve now used a pinch hitter three times – Mike Sweeney hit for Rob Johnson in Chicago, Wladimir Balentien hit for Franklin Gutierrez in the same game, and Sweeney pinch hit for Jamie Burke in the 9th inning of the 8-2 loss to the Tigers. Essentially, in one game out of 23 this year, Wak has used pinch-hitters as a strategic move to try to win a game, and in both times, he used an RHB to pinch-hit for an RHB to face an RHP.
Clearly, he understands platoon splits. However, he just doesn’t seem to really care about them after he’s turned in his line-up card. I think 99% of managers in baseball jump at the chance to send Ken Griffey Jr to the plate representing the winning run in the 9th inning at Safeco against an RHP. There’s a lot of evidence out there that the pinch-hitting penalty is pretty severe (even good hitters generally suck when asked to pinch-hit), and not pinch-hitting might actually be the best percentage play there, but I’d still love to hear Wak talk about why he is so clearly not a fan of the move.
Oh, and I’ll be surprised if Silva makes his next scheduled start. With Vargas just up from Tacoma, the team has an option that’s already stretched out and capable of eating innings. RR-S is due back pretty soon, but I’m not sure they’ll wait that long.