What the heck was that?!?
by Mike Salk
Wow. Tough loss for the M’s tonight and so many intersting aspects to the game. We’ll cover all of it on the show tomorrow, but let me make a few initial comments to get you started…
I thought Bedard looked awesome at times, but needed to make that one good pitch in the 5th to get out of trouble. Unfortunatly, it came too late and he gave up an extra two runs. That was the difference between his start and Felix’s the night before. Felix got Morneau to geound into the double play with the bases loaded; Bedard gave up the 2-run single to Cuddyer that may have ultimately cost him the win.
All in all though, a lot more good from Bedard than bad. It has to give you more confidence in him going forward – especially considering his injury setbacks in Arizona.
I guess now we know how Wak is going to handle his bullpen in tight games with a lead. We knew Morrow was going to close (more on that in a sec), but the 7th and 8th were a mystery. Corcoran may have just picked up the 7th tonight because he was throwing well already, but Aardsma may be a good bet to set up long term. He DEFINITELY has the stuff for it (95-99 mph fastball). And I think he has the mentality for it also. His clean inning helped his cause too…
So much to get to here, but let’s focus on two things.
1) Throwing strikes.
It is the number 1 most important thing a pitcher can do. It’s the reason Chris Jakubauskas and Shawn Kelley are on the team! It’s the reason Felix Hernandez was so effective last night. And beyond just throwing strikes…throwing FIRST PITCH strikes. It means everything.
On Monday, Felix threw first pitch strikes to 26 out of 33 batters. The results speak for themselves.
Now look at the play-by-play from last night’s game. Morrow faced five batters in the 9th and threw first pitch strikes to exactly one of them. In fact, after getting up 0-2 on Crede, he was able to expand the zone and use his fantastic arsenal to pick up the K.
But when he fell behind the next four batters, he gave up a long fly ball out and then the four straight walks. Disaster.
Don Wakamatsu had to make a tough choice tonight. Morrow is his closer and he’s just learing the mental side of the job, not to mention returning from injury. So after Morrow allowed three straight walks to load the bases, what was the best decision for the team?
Put yourself in Wakamatsu’s shoes:
On one hand, if you leave Morrow in, he may walk in the tying and/or winning run and the team loses positive momentum from opening day. Given how much blame was placed on the early season struggles last year, momentum is HUGE for the first year manager.
On the other hand, if you remove Morrow, you run the risk of destroying the confidence of a young man who’ll be counted on to close games all year long. Tough call.
Unfortunately, Wak opted to pull the kid in favor of Miguel Batista and two batters later had his nightmare scenario. A loss, and possibly a loss of confidence. Is this the end of the world? Of course not. And if Span’s dribbler hadn’t stayed up in the air an extra second, we wouldn’t even be worried about a game-two loss. But it’ll be interesting to see how Morrow responds to being pulled, and how the team responds to an early loss in a winnable game.
What would you have done if you were Wak? Would you have left in Morrow to get himself out of trouble? Would you have brought in Batista? Maybe another reliever? Tough call…
Leave your comments here, or call in during Wednesday’s show. 866-979-ESPN. Catch you at 11am…