Ron Gardenhire complains about Yankees' pitcher switch

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This was fun. The Yankees took the lead in the top of the ninth last night on a Nick Swisher home run, but the inning ended a pitch later when Mark Teixeira was thrown out trying to leg out a double.  The half-inning ended so quickly that Joe Girardi barely had time to get Mariano Rivera up to start throwing — it was a save situation now, don’t you know — and it was so obvious that even Rick Sutcliffe noticed it.

Despite the fact that he was seen putting on his jacket and toweling off in the top half of the inning — the universal sign for “I’m totally done pitching in this game — Andy Pettitte came out to take his warmup pitches in the bottom of the ninth.  Before he could throw a pitch, however, Joe Girardi came out and called for Rivera, who had finally warmed up.  I don’t think I was imagining Francisco Cervelli laughing a bit as he came out to the mound for the switcheroo.

Ron Gardenhire didn’t find it so funny:

“No, he wasn’t going to throw a pitch. That was kind of tired, to
tell you the truth. You don’t know normally get that long between
innings to do all that, but we know what’s going on there. That’s a situation major league baseball needs to take care of when
stuff like that happens. You don’t have a guy ready in the bullpen, if
your starter goes out there, he should have to face a hitter. That’s
just the way it should be. If you don’t get a guy up, that’s the way it
should be, unless the other team makes a change.

“But that’s not what lost the game for us. That’s stuff that just
gets old right there.”

This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened — I want to say I remember Bobby Cox doing this with Mark Wohlers or John Rocker or someone in the 90s — and I can’t really see how it prejudices the hitting team, but it is the kind of thing that feel, I dunno, weird.

But maybe the weirdest thing about it is why Joe Girardi didn’t just leave Pettitte out there anyway. He had only thrown 94 pitches and Rivera had already pitched in the resumption of the suspended game. The answer can’t be that Pettitte was tired, because if that were the case he would have been tired even if the game had remained tied. Girardi didn’t have anyone warming up before the Swisher homer, however, so I’m going to assume that if the game had stayed tied Pettitte would’ve pitched the ninth.

So basically all of that shuffling was designed to get Mariano Rivera a save.  Ah, the save: the only statistic that dictates how the game is played rather than merely reflects what happens.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.