Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Torre + Bullpen = Trouble

Alex Rodriguez hit his 53rd homer of the year in style, bashing a grand slam that raised his RBI total to 151. Kei Igawa fought tooth and nail through five scoreless innings, walking five and throwing 87 pitches.

Unfortunately, the 5-0 lead Igawa handed the bullpen would be blown the very next inning with Edwar Ramirez and Brian Bruney doing the heavy lifting. The assist goes to Torre, who after seeing Edwar walk two batters decided to go to the man who could walk a dead dog. That of course, is Bruney, whose pitch arsenal includes a 93 mph fastball, a 94 mph fastball and a 95 mph fastball. All of which are straight.

He followed Edwar's example by walking two of his own, including one with the bases juiced, and then served up a grand salami to a career minor leaguer. If you TIVOed the game, go back and watch Bruney's appearance. He didn't thrown one off-speed pitch. Just grooved fastball after fastball, graduating from Kyle Farnsworth U. and securing his unconditional release.

And just like that, a night of celebrating a playoff berth became an absurd loss. Maybe the playoff auditions should wait until after the playoffs have become a certainty, Joe. Maybe tossing a reliever out onto the mound who can throw strikes would help the team escape a pitching jam.

After only 87 pitches, Igawa probably could have gone another inning, and if Torre was that hellbent on getting him out of the game, he could have gone batter-to-batter with him. I first guessed on this one, thinking Torre went to his bullpen too early...again. I also first-guessed that Bruney would walk as many batters as Edwar did, and throw nothing but fastballs. It was a bad time to be right.

Torre also could have used Ross Ohlendorf in that spot. His uncanny ability to throw strikes and induce groundballs would have been a better answer than Bri and Eddie. And before you say that Ohlendorf pitched on Monday afternoon, remember that Jose Veras threw just as many pitches on Monday (22), but still managed to pitch Tuesday night. Before Monday's appearance, Ohlendorf only faced one batter on Saturday, meaning he was more than capable of tossing an inning last night.

Sure, Ohlendorf's future is more important to the Yankees than a guy like Veras, but an innings cap is far from necessary. After throwing 180+ innings for the Diamondbacks farm system in 2006, he's been limited to under 100 innings in 2007, due largely in part to several minor back injuries.


Any dreams of a divisional crown have fallen by the wayside, and because Detroit won last night, New York's magic number remains at 1

No comments: