Monday, October 10, 2005

MLB Playoffs: the two inning save

Lastnight watching the Yankees/Angels ALDS game I noticed Mariano Rivera got up in the bullpen in the Yankee half of the seventh even with the Yankees down 2-1. The Bombers rallied and Rivera came in and sealed the ballgame with another 2 inning postseason save. The future Hall of Famer now has recorded 34 postseason saves, 12 of which have went 2 innings or more.

Managers, besides Joe Torre, are starting to realize that when you need a win in the playoffs using your closer for two innings is a good option. Ozzie Guillen went to young Bobby Jenks for the 8th and 9th in the White Sox 5-4 victory in game 2 versus Boston. In this era of specialization getting to the closer is often a challenge. So why not pitch your closer for two innings and hopefully chalk up the victory. This from Barry Rozner's column last week:

The Ozzie files

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had one of his best outings of the year Wednesday, and no decision was better than to call on Bobby Jenks to start the eighth. It wasn’t gutsy, it was smart, and not just because it turned out well.

The crowd was antsy, but Guillen stuck to his guns. If Jenks is your closer, you go to him there — day off today or no day off today — and if you lose with him, so be it. Not enough managers are willing to use the 2-inning save in the postseason.

If Dusty Baker had done that in Game 6 of 2002 World Series, or Game 6 of 2003 NLCS, the Giants and Cubs might be wearing rings today.

Ahhh Barry, you had to bring up the painful memories of Dusty's mis-management in the two biggest games of his managerial career. I really could care less about the first. The second sparks my worst baseball memory. In that (2003 NLCS Gm 6) nightmarish eighth inning who did Dusty Baker turn to? A worn down Mark Prior, followed by the Farns and Mike Remlinger. (Antonio Alfonseca pitched the insignificant ninth.) Cub closer Joe Borowski never even got the ball in the Cubs most critical game in the past 60 years.

I apologize for bringing up that painful game in 2003. I cannot help but think and reflect on that game countless times each day--as I watch the 2005 playoffs. The Cubs are so far removed from where they were that night, it's mind-boggling. I guess it really just shows what we all know: this Cub skipper has no idea how to handle a pitching staff.

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