Here are the lineups for Game 5 of the World Series:
1. Andres Torres, RF 1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B 2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Buster Posey, C 3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Cody Ross, LF 4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Juan Uribe, 3B 5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B 6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Pat Burrell, DH 7. David Murphy, LF
8. Edgar Renteria, SS 8. Bengie Molina, C
9. Aaron Rowand, CF 9. Mitch Moreland, 1B
While the Rangers are going with their now-standard playoff lineup versus right-handed pitching, the Giants have made several changes.
Pat Burrell rejoins the lineup after sitting out Game 4, but does so while in the No. 7 spot after previously hitting fourth or fifth throughout the postseason. Burrell is just 6-for-38 (.158) with 19 strikeouts in the playoffs, but manager Bruce Bochy still wants his right-handed bat in there versus left-hander Cliff Lee.
Burrell serving as the designated hitter opens up an outfield spot for another right-handed hitter, Aaron Rowand, to make his first start since Game 4 of the NLCS. That moves Andres Torres to right field and gives the Giants a very strong defensive outfield to support Tim Lincecum. Oh, and Cody Ross is now the cleanup hitter for a team one victory from winning the World Series, which is easily the craziest sentence I’ve typed all season.
Last night I criticized Ron Washington for allowing a two-run deficit to turn into a blowout loss while closer Neftali Feliz sat in the bullpen unused, but it was far from the first time the Rangers’ manager has failed to get his best reliever into a close game.
In fact, Game 3 of the ALDS versus the Rays is the only time this entire postseason that Washington has actually brought Feliz into a close game.
Here are the circumstances of Feliz’s other four playoff appearances:
• Game 1 of the ALDS: He pitched the ninth inning with a four-run lead.
• Game 2 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.
• Game 3 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with an eight-run lead.
• Game 6 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.
Feliz was one of the elite relievers in baseball this season, posting a 2.73 ERA, .176 opponents’ batting average, and 71/18 K/BB ratio in 69 innings. Yet because Washington is focused on managing his bullpen around the save statistic Feliz has pitched in just five games all postseason and four of those appearances came when the Rangers had a lead of at least four runs.
And there have certainly been no shortage of key late-game spots where Washington could have called on Feliz, beginning with the eerily similar eighth-inning bullpen implosions in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees and Game 2 of the World Series last night. In both of those vital situations Feliz went unused and the Rangers let games slip away while Washington turned to just about every other reliever in the bullpen.
Texas has played 14 playoff games and Feliz has faced a grand total of 20 batters, just four of which came in a close game. To put that ridiculous usage into some context, consider that Darren Oliver has faced 32 batters while appearing three more times than Feliz. Heck, even Darren O’Day (19 batters faced) and Alexi Ogando (18 batters faced) have been used nearly as much and in more crucial situations than Feliz.
Instead of doing everything he possibly can to save the Rangers’ season Washington has been more focused on holding his best reliever back for so-called “save” situations that may never arrive.
C.J. Wilson was forced out of his Game 2 start in the seventh inning by a blister on his left middle finger, explaining afterward that it “just ripped open” and kept him from being able to “throw anything beside the curveball for a strike” to Cody Ross, who walked leading off the inning.
Wilson explained after the game that he’s been pitching through blister problems for much of the season and promised to be “fine” for his potential Game 6 start Wednesday in San Francisco.
He also revealed that he used super glue to keep the blister closed in the early innings last night, which as David Brown of Yahoo! Sports notes could be something with which the umpires take issue.
Brown recalled that Zach Day of the then-Expos was ejected from a game in 2003 for having super glue on a blister, with umpire Bill Miller explaining at the time: “He had a foreign substance on his person and that means he is in violation of this rule.” And sure enough, under rule 8.02 (b) “a pitcher is automatically ejected if he is found with any foreign substance on his fingers.”
Miller is coincidentally also on the World Series umpiring crew, so presumably he’ll take an added interest in Wilson’s blister if the left-hander is on the mound for Game 6.