Joe Girardi's indecision leads to Kendry Morales' game-icing homer


Kendry Morales homer.jpgA curious thing happened in Anaheim yesterday, as Joe Girardi decided to
have Damaso Marte pitch to Kendry Morales in the bottom of the seventh
with two on and two out, the Bombers down by one.  Fair enough. I hate
intentional walks anyway, but especially hate them when first base isn’t
open or when the pitcher isn’t coming up to bat. And especially when
you have a favorable matchup such as a lefty facing Kendry Morales. Good
job going after it, Joe!

Except in this case there was only one
problem: Girardi’s decision to pitch to Morales came after he had first
decided to walk the guy, with Marte already having delivered intentional
ball one.  Really, Girardi just changed his mind mid-walk and said
“forget it.” The outcome of the at bat: Kendry Morales homered, Angels
took an 8-4 lead which would hold up.

That this was a poor
decision was clear even before the homer, as Marte — now actually
trying to get Morales out — threw two additional balls, running the
count to 3-0.  Take
it away Joe Girardi

“He got to 3-0 and I could
have put four (fingers) up again,” Girardi
said. “I probably should have put four there.”*

he didn’t, Morales had the green light and he deposited a fat 89 m.p.h.
fastball over the wall.  The Angels already had the lead, but at that
point the game was over.

To Girardi’s credit he totally owned the
decision after the game, but that doesn’t make things any better. 
Pitching to Morales may or may not have been a good idea in an absolute
sense, but once the decision was made to walk him, you have to stick
with it. Ask yourself: ever have some work taken off your plate at the
office, only to have the boss come back a few minutes later and say
“Know what? I’m going to need you to do that anyway.” It’s deflating. It
would have been better if the guy had never told you that you didn’t
have to do it in the first place.

Damaso Marte probably felt that
way too, having cleared his mind, however temporarily, of his plan of
attack for Kendry Morales. Then Giradi plopped that file back on his

*I know managers have been calling for intentional walks
forever, but the whole notion of the manager calling each individual
pitch in an at bat grinds my gears. While the outcome could have been
better if Girardi had put the free pass back on when it was 3-0, I
almost would have been more angry if he had, at least on a philosophical
level. Make up your mind and let your pitcher and catcher get the job
done.  If an idiot like Terry Bradshaw was able to call his own plays,
certainly Frankie Cervelli can call a pitch or two, can’t he?

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.

Video: Hector Rondon closes it out, Cubs advance past Cardinals to NLCS

Hector Rondon
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …

Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

Carlos Martinez

After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.