San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 5

Should Cliff Lee have pitched to Renteria?


It isn’t all hindsight.

Before Cliff Lee gave up that home run to Edgar Renteria last night there were multiple people on my Twitter feed — lots of beat writers and bloggers and everyone — thinking that with first base open and the punchless Aaron Rowand on deck, Lee should have pitched around Renteria or even straight walked him.  He didn’t do that, obviously, and Renteria went yard.  Buster Olney has a great account of the pitch — including comment from Bengie Molina and Lee — over at ESPN today.  The upshot: Molina wanted it out of the zone, Lee says he doesn’t play like that when it’s 3-0, but both admitted that the cutter Renteria deposited in the seats wasn’t the sharpest pitch he’s ever thrown.

My view before the homer? Lee should have pitched to Renteria.  I guess it was the wrong view, ultimately, but that’s how I thought about it at the time. If I was Ron Washington, Bengie Molina or Cliff Lee my vote would have been to go after Renteria.  Yes, he’s been hot, but he’s still Edgar Renteria. And the guy pitching is still Cliff Lee, and there aren’t many better than Cliff Lee. I don’t like intentionally walking hitters that, generally speaking, don’t pose a serious threat (and in my mind that includes all but the really elite hitters). I certainly don’t like loading the bases.

Like I said: that was ultimately the wrong call. But I’m not gonna fault Lee, Molina or Washington for making it. Lee threw a bad pitch. Renteria did with bad pitches what almost all major leaguers — maybe even Aaron Roward — can do with bad pitches.  It happens.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.