Well, they can still get a split on the road, right?
I can't be the only person who was amused at the sight of a very wholesome-looking Liz Phair singing God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch, can I? Whoever it was that invited her to sing, whether you're ignorant of some of her more colorful compositions or fully aware of them, I salute you.
I know Phil Garner has done an excellent job juggling players in various roles throughout the postseason, but I have to question a couple of his moves tonight:
- I'm surprised he let Mike Lamb bat against the lefty Neal Cotts. I'd have sent Chris Burke up there and been ready to swap in Orlando Palmeiro if Ozzie Guillen had then countered by bringing Bobby Jenks in then. Maybe Lamb hit lefties better than I think - neither Joe Buck nor Tim McCarver explored the question at all - but otherwise, I was scratching my head.
- More curiously, why bring in Russ Springer when Dan Wheeler is available? Springer is not an eighth-inning pitcher, especially not on the road down by a run. Of all the things Garner did tonight, this is the one I question the most.
- Lastly, why is Palmeiro still on the bench when Adam Everett's turn came up in the ninth? Does anyone here think Everett has a prayer against Jenks? What's Garner saving him for?
I'm not saying that these thing necessarily affected the outcome. I do, however, think that Garner did not use the assets he has in an optimal fashion. We'll see if he gets asked about it.
UPDATE: John Lopez hits some of the same notes as I do.
UPDATE: Joe Sheehan has the numbers:
Lamb hit .179/.217/.339 against southpaws this year, striking out in nearly 30% of his 56 at-bats against them. His performance prior to '05 wasn't much better, .248/.300/.436 in 101 ABs from 2002-04. Cotts didn't have a significant platoon split--I've taken to comparing him to Arthur Rhodes at his peak, myself--so that may have played into Garner's thinking, but I can't imagine there's any reason to have Lamb hitting in that situation. He's horrible against lefties.
Even if you assume that sending up Chris Burke will mean Guillen will counter with Jenks, you have the option of going back to Orlando Palmeiro or Jose Vizcaino. The publicity Jenks is getting notwithstanding, you'd rather face him with a platoon advantage than Cotts without it, and Jenks' big curve provides some chance of a wild pitch that would score the tying run from third.
Allowing Lamb to bat was the least viable of all the available options, even if it meant burning through multiple players. As with the decision to use Rodriguez, it seems to me that Garner may not have made the right adjustments to playing under AL rules. That at-bat is so high-leverage that you have to maximize your chance to score. Using Burke as a pinch-runner for Berkman, rather than as a pinch-hitter for Lamb, was perhaps Garner's biggest mistake of the night.