Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Gardy Has Lost All Faith in the Bullpen — And They Fail Again

That was certainly a tough spot for Gardy in the eighth inning on Saturday afternoon’s game. Blackburn had looked good, getting through seven innings and giving up just a three run homer to Mark Teixeira,* and we’d just rallied to take the lead 4-3.

* Does anyone else think Teixeira is really dialing up his game against the Twins? He’s hit .369/.416/.653 in his career against the Twins, which is the third best he’s done against any other team. (After the Nationals and the Indians.) The reason for that can’t be Gomez, that was too recent. However, given how quick Teixeira was to explode at Gomez about something that was neither of their fault and was just part of the game, there may be a pre-existing issue here. I wonder if he blames us for not taking him first overall? Some baseball players have been mistreated … but, like people, some of them are just jerks.

Blackburn had already thrown 98 pitches, but with the knowledge that the bullpen is simply awful, Gardy couldn’t in good conscience bring in a reliever. Unfortunately, Blackburn surrendered a run in the 8th to tie the game, wasting the rally and his strong start.

I appreciate the fact that he disregarded the almighty 100 pitch count and left the starter out there for an extra inning. But we really shouldn’t have to do that. This demonstrates the fact that Gardy has realized that we simply don’t have an 8th inning reliever right now, and it’s found yet another way to cost us a game.

After extending Guerrier to another 2 inning outing,* we had to go to Breslow. He managed to record an out in the 10th, which was a minor miracle, but he couldn’t do the same in the 11th. He walked Teixeira and gave up a walkoff home run to A-Rod. There’s a reason that when Breslow comes in I immediately say “Well, here comes a walk and a home run.” And it’s because when he comes in, he gives up a walk and a home run.

* As I wrote the other day, we can’t keep using Guerrier like this. He looked good in those 2 innings, but this kind of thing is what wrecked his arm — and possibly his career — in 2008. If the plan is just to ride him until he blows out his shoulder and then cast him aside, then fine, but I don’t think that’s what we should be doing.

Another thing I said when Breslow came in was that for some reason, Gardy was still using our relievers as if it’s wise to use a pitcher for one batter in an extra inning game. He came in to face Damon, and I thought it was simply inconceivable to have him face Teixeira and Rodriguez, given that they’re both right handed power bats … and Breslow sucks. Again, it’s a tough spot.

Frankly, I wanted to be able to write about Mauer and Morneau today. This is the second time this season that they’ve both homered in consecutive games. While I think that’s awesome, we’re having serious OBP problems in the 2-hole — all five of the home runs the Twins have hit in this series have been solo shots. That’s pretty bad.

The Twins have come close to beating their New York curse in each of the first two games of the series, and each time have come up painfully short. Let’s see what they can do this afternoon.

11 comments

11 Comments so far

  1. Erica May 18th, 2009 10:35 am

    I actually think there IS a curse, now. I have laughed at silly Cubs fans for years- but there is no other explanation for three such hard-luck losses in a row.

    Friggin’ Yankees.

  2. FunBobby May 18th, 2009 12:41 pm

    So we are something like 3-22 in the Bronx during the Gardenhire era. That is unacceptable. Are we intimidated by the aura of Yankee stadium and the history of the team? If we are, Gardenhire needs to tell them to snap out of it. Its like in the 1992 olympics when the other teams were asking for autographs from the members of the Dream Team before they played them. At least we can place the blame squarely on the shoulders of one group of people: the relievers. Do you think its bad when something like that happnes. Its not like “the offense did nothing, the starters sucked, and the bullpen didn’t stop the bleeding. It was a team loss” the first two groups played great (from what i hear i was unable to watch). Do loses like this cause a division in the clubhouse. Does Kevin Slowey look at the relievers and say “those clowns cost me a win”, I hope not but it does seem natural.

  3. sirsean May 18th, 2009 12:44 pm

    So far in the series, the offense is 1-25 with runners in scoring position. So while we’ve hit some home runs (5 homers, 4 by Mauer&Morneau), they’ve all been solo shots, and we can’t score without them.

    I wouldn’t say the offense is exactly holding up their end of the bargain, but the bullpen is certainly the biggest offender.

  4. FunBobby May 18th, 2009 12:49 pm

    I didn’t realize we were that bad with runners in scoring position. but the point I guess I was trying to make was do close loses like this cause finger pointing and the blame game to start? that seems like something that could destroy this team in particular since we do rely on “chemistry” a fair amount.

  5. sirsean May 18th, 2009 12:51 pm

    I don’t know if that kind of discord actually does happen, but frankly I can’t see how it WOULDN’T happen.

    The starters probably want to take the relievers out back and beat the shit out of them.

    The thing is, though, that nobody’s really carrying their weight except Mauer and Morneau.

    I think you’re right that this could be a disaster for the Twins, if they actually do start to splinter in the clubhouse.

  6. Erica May 18th, 2009 1:00 pm

    In my opinion, those losses weren’t squarely on the relievers. Like you said, the Twins had plenty of opportunities to score and didn’t capitalize. They never built a comfortable lead, and the Yanks have a powerful lineup.

    The worst reliever this series, strangely, was Joe Nathan. He’s the only one I point to and say, “buddy, that Friday loss is on you.” Maybe if Joe doesn’t blow the save (and with a two-run lead, it’s hard to believe that he did), the Twins go into the rest of the games with a confident mindset.

    At least the starting pitchers did a nice job. I couldn’t watch Saturday, but Slowey pitched beautifully on Sunday.

  7. FunBobby May 18th, 2009 1:05 pm

    You could argue that the reason blackburn came back out to face Matsui on saturday was because Gardy knew that blackburn at 60% (or whatever he was at by then) is still significantly better than any reliever at near 100%. SO you might consider that their fault too. If they weren’t bad and were capable of getting people out we could have used them. No matter who you blame for the loses over the weekend, the bullpen is a problem and needs to be fixed. Soon.

  8. sirsean May 18th, 2009 1:08 pm

    I’d say the bullpen is the only reason Blackburn stayed in the game on Saturday. In 2006, we go to the pen and it’s over.

    Nathan doesn’t get a free pass here, as he lost a game too, but he actually has talent, and will likely bounce back and be fine. There’s no reason to believe Ayala, Breslow, and Dickey can someone discover how to be good for the first time in their lives, and Crain and Guerrier look pretty finished.

  9. Erica May 18th, 2009 1:53 pm

    You guys are right- the bullpen needs help, big time. But this weekend, with low-scoring walk-off losses, the Usual Suspects weren’t really responsible for blowing the games. Both teams played neck-in-neck, and the Yankees got lucky all three days.

  10. sirsean May 18th, 2009 1:56 pm

    True about the luck. I mentioned about the Friday game that we’d stole some victories of our own lately, and we already have 4 walkoff wins this season, and plenty of close-and-late victories … and those things all tend to balance out.

    So it feels really bad right now, but it’s just the pendulum swinging. It’ll swing back.

  11. FunBobby May 18th, 2009 1:57 pm

    True that the “usual suspects” weren’t totally at fault for the weekend heartbreak, but to quote the classic movie National Treasure “Ben, somebody has to go to jail” and in this case jail is either the minors or an outright release.

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