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

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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.”*

But
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
desk.

*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?

Marlins defeat the Mets, then pay their respects to Jose Fernandez on the pitcher’s mound

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miami Marlins players all wearing jerseys bearing the number 16 and name Fernandez honor the late Jose Fernandez before the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images
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The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.

When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.

Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.

A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.

Indians defeat Tigers, clinch AL Central for first division title since 2007

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on September 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.

Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.

In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.

Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.

The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.

Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.

The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.

The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.