Monday, July 04, 2005

A Breakthrough!

Friday at the Dome...

Minnesota - Bottom of 7th Score
Casey Fossum pitching for Tampa Bay TAM MIN
J Jones grounded out to shortstop. 43
M LeCroy singled to left. 43
B Abernathy ran for M LeCroy. 43
J Morneau singled to center, B Abernathy to third. 43
D Brazelton relieved C Fossum. 43
M Ryan hit for L Rivas. 43
M Ryan grounded into double play, second to shortstop to first, J Morneau out at second. 43
0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors
Tampa Bay - Top of 8th Score
Jesse Crain pitching for Minnesota TAM MIN
B Abernathy at second base. 43
J Gomes fouled out to first. 43
T Lee grounded out to shortstop. 43
T Hall reached on infield single to shortstop, T Hall to second on throwing error by shortstop J Castro. 43
D Hollins grounded out to second. 43
0 Runs, 1 Hits, 1 Errors
Minnesota - Bottom of 8th Score
Dewon Brazelton pitching for Tampa Bay TAM MIN
C Crawford in left field. 43
L Rodriguez walked. 43
S Stewart singled to left, L Rodriguez to second. 43
J Castro sacrificed to pitcher, L Rodriguez to third, S Stewart to second. 43
J Mauer intentionally walked. 43
T Hunter walked, L Rodriguez scored, S Stewart to third, J Mauer to second. 44
J Jones tripled to right, S Stewart, J Mauer and T Hunter scored. 47
B Abernathy struck out swinging. 47
J Morneau intentionally walked. 47
L Ford hit for M Ryan (J Crain). 47
L Ford walked, J Morneau to second. 47
L Carter relieved D Brazelton. 47
L Rodriguez flied out to center. 47
4 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors

See what happened there?

Ever since Joe Mauer hurt his knee at the beginning of last season, Ron Gardenhire has fretted in the media about whether he could stand the risk of managing games in which his primary backup catcher is also his regular DH in the lineup. If the starting catcher were to get hurt during the game and LeCroy is already playing as the DH, then moving Matty behind the plate would mean the Twins lose the DH the rest of the day. The pitcher becomes active in the batting order and might have to bat for himself.

Gardy's fear of this scenario is the reason the club called up Rob Bowen from AA and carried him for a couple months last year; it's why Terry Ryan made a trade to pluck the wizened and ancient Pat Borders out of AAA in late August; and it was the rationale for starting this season with Corky Miller as a spare backup catcher, just to ease the manager's fears of what would happen if Mike Redmond got hurt on the same day that Mauer already had the day off to rest his knee. Corky would be there to see to it that his manager wouldn't have to worry about managing a few innings with the pitcher activated in the batting order.

Friday, apparently after studying how NL managers work around the pitcher's spot in the late innings, Gardy showed he's figgered out the problem. After all the sleepless nights of worry, and the pain of watching Borders scramble to block pitches and Corky's bat flailing at them, our manager has put his fears to rest. Folks, I think our little man is growing up!

Abernathy ran for the DH LeCroy. Keeping Abernathy in the game at 2nd base allowed "the pitcher's spot" to shift down to the #8 turn in the order, which had been occupied by Rivas (and Michael Ryan after he had pinch-hit for Luooo-ie in the 7th inning). When the pitcher's spot came up again, the manager sent out Lew Ford to pinch-hit, then changed pitchers in the 9th.

Now, why was it so hard to get to this breakthrough?

Let's just hope it puts the whole issue to bed, once and for all.


At 7/04/2005 8:29 AM, Anonymous Neil said...

I was in Milwaukee last weekend and witnessed first hand not one, but two actual, legitimate double switches executed by Gardy over the course of three games. By gum, I think the old boy's got it!

At 7/05/2005 1:14 AM, Blogger amr said...

Yeah, but one of those double-switches was for LeCroy after he was done running the bases, rather than during. Had he started the double-switch by pinch-running for LeCroy, he could have gotten the team a run. (Matty could only run to 3rd on a hit when anyone else could have made it home.)

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