Saturday, April 23, 2005


Tigers 5, Twins 4 (10 inn.)

Care to explain why Terry Mulholland was on the mound for the 8th, 9th,
and 10th innings tonight?

I hesitate to ask for a "reason," because I suspect reason's got nothing to do with it. So I'll settle for hearing a good excuse.

It was a 3-3 tie in the 8th, before Mulholland promptly gave up the 4-3 lead and narrowly avoided worse by escaping a bases-loaded jam. Since when did Terry Mulholland become a go-to guy in the 8th inning of a tie game, anyway? Gardy got away with using Mulholland to protect a 1-run lead in a similar spot last weekend in Cleveland, because the offense padded the lead before he finally coughed up a 2-run homer in the 9th which wouldn't affect the outcome, but the manager knows he was pushing his luck, doesn't he?

We are talking about a 42 year-old pitcher, dependent upon his location, guile, and determination more than anything else, who allowed batters to hit .327/.371/.481 off him while posting a 5.18 ERA last year. The average batter sort of became Johnny Damon or Lyle Overbay when Old Terence was on the mound. I thought he was on the roster for his leadership, his rubber arm, and to mop up games, spot start, or eat innings in a pinch. We may quibble over whether he's the right man even for that role, but I thought at least the definition of his role was understood. How many times would you like to take your chances with a guy throwing offspeed junk to a succession of Lyle Overbays, one after another, in a tie game?

Apparently Gardenhire has decided he likes the thrill of gambling against the house odds. Or did he just decide the rest of his pen would be unavailable tonight unless the Twins actually had a lead?

I see that Juan Rincon pitched the last two games: 18 pitches yesterday, 11 pitches on Wednesday, after he'd been rested for 4 days. He was probably available, but I could see the manager holding him back in this case. J.C. Romero pitched yesterday, 9 pitches after he'd been rested 3 days. Certainly available, but maybe you'd like to save him for a lead--or the 10th inning of a tie game. Guerrier pitched long relief yesterday and wouldn't be the right man for tonight, anyway. OK. Joe Nathan? Pitched 29 pitches over the last two days, but the Book of Orthodox Management would tell you to save him for the lead, anyway. Who else?

Jesse Crain! I swear I saw Jesse Crain warming up in the 8th inning. He threw 20 pitches yesterday against Kansas City, but otherwise should have felt rested. He's been doing fine to start the season: in 4.1 innings, he has a 1.15 WHIP and 0.00 ERA. Batters are hitting .250/.333/.250 off him. Is there a good excuse for why Crain or Romero wouldn't have come out for the 8th... the 9th... or the 10th?

Keep in mind that in the 10th the Tigers had due up: Rodriguez (RHB), Guillen (Switch), and Monroe (RHB). Why would a manager extend Mulholland, a soft-tossing lefty, for a third inning with those hitters coming up? Wouldn't you prefer a righty who brings a little heat to keep your team in the game? Does the manager just not trust Jesse Crain at all?

Someone might say that Gardy's hands were tied because so many relievers had to pitch the previous afternoon; he needed Mulholland to eat innings, just in case the game dragged on all night. But given 3 available setup men and the closer, the manager ought to be able to string together several innings out of his core relievers if covering a 15-inning game was his concern. And why not save Mulholland as the last resort, even if that was his biggest concern?

Then again, we are talking about the manager who would send Terry Tiffee back to AAA because he still can't give up his 4th Catcher. Like I said, reason's got nothing to do with it.


At 4/23/2005 9:22 AM, Anonymous bjhess said...

Amen brother! It was excruciating to watch.

At 4/23/2005 12:33 PM, Anonymous zellar said...

No clue from this quarter. Mind-boggling. This was the second time this year that Gardenhire brought Mulholland into a game at a point when he had no business being out there. The only thing I can think is that they're trying to see how much moxie the old man has left as a prelude to giving him his release. Three innings in a close game on a rainy afternoon, though, hardly seems the time for such a trial.

At 4/23/2005 1:49 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Par for the course, neither of the Twin Cities dailies challenged the manager on his suspect strategery at all. Both focus on the upside of getting Silva and Morneau back, and the miscues by Hunter and Cuddyer. Christenson at the Strib blindly accepts the notion that the rest of Gardy's pen was more or less spent from the previous day's game, which doesn't hold up to examination. Are they following some unspoken rule that I don't know about?

At 4/23/2005 5:10 PM, Blogger SBG said...

Gardy is the best manager in the AL! He should be manager of the year! The sky is purple and green! Spiders are crawling inside my head! How come words are spilling out of my computer screen?

Obviously, there's a lot of hallucinating about Gardy going on in this town. Bringing in Mulholland in any situation other than mop up in a blowout is a ridiculous notion.

At 4/24/2005 12:47 AM, Anonymous zellar said...

Yes, they're following an unspoken rule. I won't say much more than that, but that's exactly what they're doing.

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