It was interesting hearing the reaction of many fans on Cliff Saunders’ Late Shift show as I returned home from the Cardinals’ 2-1 loss to Texas in Game 2 of the 2011 World Series.
People were panning Tony La Russa’s use of the bullpen, suggesting among other things that he should have stayed with Jason Motte through Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, or that he should have brought in another reliever to face Hamilton other than Arthur Rhodes.
People, there’s a formula for this bullpen, and it worked magnificently until the ninth inning. Seriously, who among us wasn’t thrilled with the results for Wednesday night? One night later, basically the same logical moves were made, and now they’re being criticized? That’s ridiculous and reactionary.
When the inning started, the move was to bring in Motte, who allowed a bloop hit to Ian Kinsler to lead off the inning before Kinsler stole second. I’ll admit I was a little surprised when Motte was pulled for Rhodes after Elvis Andrus’ single to center, but for the balance of the post-season, Rhodes has come in to get the other team’s best lefthanded hitter, in this case Hamilton, who hit a sacrifice fly.
Once Rhodes did his job, it was up to Lance Lynn to strike a couple of guys out, and he didn’t. But look at the inning. Kinsler leads off with a bloop hit just out of the reach of shortstop Rafael Furcal. Then, Andrus hits a medium line drive to center, and in holding the tying run (Kinsler) at third, the Cards allow Andrus to move up on an error by cutoff man Albert Pujols. Hamilton makes an out with a sacrifice fly, and so does Young. Then Lynn gets Adrian Beltre to ground out.
Add it all up, and you’ve got one semi-hard hit ball by Andrus in five hitters. Two runs score for Texas, but it really isn’t anyone’s fault.
Ron Washington said it about his team after Game 1, and the same applies in Game 2. The winning team simply beat the losing team. Nobody to blame, no need to throw tantrums. One team had it going, and the other team didn’t.
I hope people can calm down and temper their reactions. This is going to be a long, competitive series. The score after two games is even at 4-4, with each team winning a tense, one-run affair. More of the same promises to be forthcoming in Texas. When it happens, win or lose, let’s not be so quick to assign credit or blame. It’s the World Series. It’s supposed to be great, compelling baseball, and it is. Enjoy it for that, rather than worry about who gets the blame or the credit.