Bad night for Closers

Last night was a game that was tightly contested for 8 innings on both sides, featuring a well pitched game by Phil Hughes and an even better showing by Dice-K. Hughes was outstanding before allowing 2 leadoff walks in the 7th (more on that later), giving up just 1 run on a double that was poorly played by Nick Swisher and a legit single to Victor Martinez. Diasuke Matsuzaka was even better than Hughes, dazzling the Yanks all night long and giving up 2 Runs on a bloop single by Tex and a 2-Run HR to Alex that just cleared the auxiliary scoreboard in right field. It wasn’t even a bad pitch, in on the hands about belt high. That’s one where you just tip your cap to Alex, who’s been sizzling hot the past few days.

But by the time the two Closers entered the game, it looked like neither side wanted the win. Mariano Rivera was asleep at the wheel, allowing 4 stolen bases without once throwing a ball to 1B/2B or checking a runner. Posada’s throws weren’t good, twice he didn’t even attempt a throw. But those steals were clearly on Mariano, and even Joe Girardi pinned the blame on Mo in the post game. When asked what happened with all the steals in the 9th, he said  “They got good jumps on Mo”. It’ll be interesting to watch his next few outings to see if he pays more attention out there. As troubling as it was to see this gaping flaw, it’s better to have this exposed now than in the 9th inning of a decisive game in the ALDS. In an odd way, the Sox actually did us a favor.

Buster Onley tried to pin Mo’s recent struggles on his usage, Tweeting this after yesterday’s game:

Big win for the Yankees Sunday, but there is this concern for the NYY: Since Mariano Rivera was asked to pitch on back-to-back days on Sept. 11, after throwing two innings Sept. 10, his numbers (and performances) have been ugly: 5.2 IP, 9 hits, 6 ER, three blown saves.

I’m not buying it. He hadn’t been used in almost a week prior to those back to back outings, and he’s worked back to back 10 times previously this year. 3 innings spread out over two days after 6 days off isn’t exactly abuse by Girardi, even for a 40 year old. It’s part of a Closer’s job description to work back to back games if there are wins to be preserved. Mo’s just in a slump, it happens every year and this year it just happened to come in September.

From the Red Sox side, Closer Jonathan Papelbon had some choice words for Home Plate Umpire Phil Cuzzi last night:

“Really rough tonight, considering the fact that I’m not only pitching against the hitter, I’m pitching against the umpire,’’ Papelbon said. “When you’ve got to do that against this lineup, you’ll never be successful.’’

…Cuzzi’s strike zone forced Papelbon to give in to the hitter and throw pitches more on the plate than he was comfortable doing.

“When you’ve got to do that, you’re in a lose-lose situation,’’ Papelbon said. “Just call the game. There’s 27 outs. Call the game. Don’t let the crowd influence you, don’t let the hitter influence you, don’t call the pitch where the catcher catches it. Stay focused for 27 outs and call the game.

“I’m not blaming the umpire. I could have definitely battled a little bit more out of that situation. I’m not one to complain about pitches, no, I’m not one to do that at all. But when you’re pitching against an umpire and their lineup, nobody can win in that situation. It’s impossible.’’

He happens to be right, watching the K-Zone on the ESPN broadcast last night he had numerous hitters struck out multiple times, most notably A-Rod. But you can’t win these arguments with umpire without coming across as a whiner. Even when you’re right, you’re better off keeping your mouth shut.

0 thoughts on “Bad night for Closers

  1. Kareem

    Guess Papelbon doesnt realize, if the umpires actually did call it right, he wouldnt have had a chance to blow the game, the AB with Bill Hall was absolute garbage.

    • Steve S.

      It definitely went both ways. Hughes was very frustrated with Cuzzi in the 7th. Seemed to me like Cuzzi had a different strike zone for fastballs than he did for breaking pitches.

  2. I dont know how

    “I’m not blaming the umpire”

    vs.

    “Really rough tonight, considering the fact that I’m not only pitching against the hitter, I’m pitching against the umpire”

    adds up, but thats ok. No one ever accused good old Paps of being the brightest bulb in the box.

  3. bornwithpinstripes

    Mo should not have been brought in the eighth,he does not have have young arm anymore, girardi has been saying for the past few years he would not bring him in that role ,but that is panic joe.. Mo needs to not start and stop…close three outs with a lead and thats it..simple…he had logan for ortiz or let wood walk him and pitch to the next guy..or go get another righty..i know he has come in 115 times in the past ,but thats just it ,he is not the kid from the past..Mo should rest until friday…tonight should be an offensive game..

    • BWP, didn’t you say last night that if we lost the game it was time to, and I quote, “bring out the razors”?

      • bornwithpinstripes

        absolutely. a sweep last night and girardi would have doubled his prozac…it would have been 4 in the loss with three games at fenway..the guys would be squeezing the bats into sawdust…1 run vs dicek..scary..he averaged 17 pitches an inning until last night ..11…before arods bailout..did you feel we had nothing to worry about Stephen? i think we just had lost 13 of 18, and looked terrible..the win last night will carry over all positives…no way any one would have felt good going into fenway three up with three left..if it came to that or worse ,the jays have played us great this year..read my comment following the game.

        • I definitely wanted a win last night. I was just contrasting your criticism of Girardi for panicking and bringing in Rivera in the 8th with your threat of suicide should the Yankees lose last night. Can’t have it both ways, buddy. It was either a big game or not, and if it was then you can’t get on him for using Rivera.

          • bornwithpinstripes

            Stephen i don’t want it both ways ,how did you determine that..? read my comment above..#3 his panic served up a blow save for Mo in the next inning..and please “buddy” sounds sarcastic. this is only my opinion, don’t take it personal ..what these chat boards are good for is to share info and opinions hopefully keeping an open mind and maybe see a different point that may be enlightening..end result mo blew another game, but mo didn’t say put me in now..girardi’s call he is accountable..just like he used him on the road in a tie game for two innings…what was he thinking ..blew mo out until now..mo was lights out before that ,his era was around 1 or less..he is killing the horse that pulls the cart..hope you open your mind up a little and see what is reality..thanks Stephen

          • I didn’t mean “buddy” in a sarcastic sense, honestly. But I don’t think its fair to act as if last night’s game was do or die (literally for you, apparently :-) ) but then criticize him for going to his best pitcher in the biggest spot of the game. What happened in Texas is largely irrelevant to the decision of whether to put Rivera in the eighth inning last night – it was a big spot and he went to his best guy in an attempt to lock the game down. I don’t blame Girardi for doing it, and you shouldn’t either if you were so worried about losing unless you believe closers should only be used in the ninth inning. If that’s the case, then I disagree but I understand your sentiment.

          • bornwithpinstripes

            look at the result, he blew the game.he did not lock it down..how can you disagree with fact? this is not the first time ,right now no matter who’s fault it is, Mo is not Mo.. you have not seen this all month Stephen? and yes i firmly believe closer goes into a one inning spot and thats it..they are super hype guys, get up and in , then to the bench up and in again ,i feel they lose a lot of the rush they come in with.. mathematically it was not do or die….mentally it was..come you seen this in sports of all types not just the yanks in 04, or the mets every year..the redsox many times.. remember when we swept them a 5 game series in boston..it does happen..i can keep giving you examples..the mets had a 7 game lead with 17 to play and lost..last year we were 0 and 8 vs sox then what..thank you for clearing up the buddy stuff, your a gentleman..we have a great pen,i believe the best..they need to get rest and be used right,girardi has been brutal,,did you read the post sunday? sherman’s story.. thanks Stephen

          • Joe G

            Post this Sherman article, I’d like to see it. Not because I think he’s right, I just want to see how Sherman of all people can tell us that Girardi is doing a poor job. Please give the Girardi bashing a rest for a day too. He played it right last night. It was a big game, he asked Mo for 4 outs. If Mo paid any attention to the runners he probably gets through that save. I don’t see any evidence that an extra batter(something he’s done before) caused him to falter. You go to your bst in big spots and that was a big spot. No need to point fingers, he just didn’t get it done, lets move on.

  4. If papelbon has been paying the slightest bit of attention to the game before he came in, or had he spoken to any of his other pitchers or coaches he would have been prepared for a tight strike zone that everyone had been squeezed by. But no, his self-absorption made it all about him. he was the only poor victim. i’d like to have the strike zone of Mariano vs Hall tattooed on his forehead.

  5. bornwithpinstripes

    Post this Sherman article, I’d like to see it.Not because I think he’s right, I just want to see how Sherman of all people can tell us that Girardi is doing a poor job.Please give the Girardi bashing a rest for a day too.He played it right last night.It was a big game, he asked Mo for 4 outs.If Mo paid any attention to the runners he probably gets through that save.I don’t see any evidence that an extra batter(something he’s done before) caused him to falter.You go to your bst in big spots and that was a big spot.No need to point fingers, he just didn’t get it done, lets move on.  

    Joe .I don’t know how to post it,computer illiterate i am.. what does nbsp mean? Mo has been super great this year…until the texas series.. if it was my call, he won’t pitch again until friday..this not just a one game complaint, if it was i would be out of order..he has a bullpen full of arms..we should not be in this position in the first place..just his management sept. alone..his brain locked last night, golson should have been in RF in the ninth…pena should have been in as soon as tex touched first base, he is very slow let alone a broken toe…a double steal was just nunez..tex standing on first still…then he runs for tex …what is there to think about…you must stay out of the DP we have hit in a whole lot this year and killed rallies..do you give me that point? forget the pen issues.. because we pulled it out does not mean we got it right..just lucky..

    • Moshe Mandel

      Golson wasnt in defensively in the 9th because Swisher was due up second in the bottom half. If Joe does what you suggested, we are likely discussing a 3-2 loss. As for pinch running for Tex, I dont give up his bat in that spot, because it might come up again, as it did when Miranda came up. However, once the count got to 3-2, Joe’s hand was forced, because you want to start the runner on 3-2 in that spot, so you needed a pinch runner. Joe managed that situation expertly. Your suggestions would have decreased their odds of winning.

      • bornwithpinstripes

        Moshe the yanks were up 2 1 why would swisher be up in the ninth??? Moshe you must stay away from a DP at all cost ,now we are down a run, you want to have a guy with a broken toe who runs like slow motion..his spot was due up three innings later? Moshe you put your best defense out in the ninth inning with a lead…No? girardi did it all year long.

        • Moshe Mandel

          Because you might give up runs. You have to weight the added value of the defense. Joe did so, and made the right move, as we saw Swisher get on base the next inning. And Teixeira’s spot came up one inning later. As the trail run there, you keep him in the game until his speed becomes more relevant.

          • bornwithpinstripes

            Moshe we have Mo on the mound, 98% of the time the other guys get nothing.. you might give up runs with bad defense..the other day he had thames in left late in the game, he needed a cab to catch a pop fly that fell,we lost.. tex spot came up because we got guys on base..again with mo on the mound there should be no next inning..do you really sit back for the last 15 years and say Mo may give up some runs , so don’t change the defense? When Mo comes in be green save energy, shut the tv off, just the next day see how many pitches he three..come on Moshe you are a very sharp baseball guy. if you want to go point counter point all day , i except the challenge..but only if it is for a mental excersize.

    • Joe G

      Stripes….hmm I’m not sure what you’re referring to with nbsp. I have no problem with Mo taking a week off, but I also dont know why he’s been lackluster lately. If he’s injured or tired, then sure rest him all week. But if he’s just having a bad streak, then I’ll let him and girardi decide if he needs constant work to regain form. I understand what your saying regarding the steals, but Girardi’s main goal that inning was to get Arod up, which is why Nunez didn’t run while at first. I think he didn’t pinch run Tex in case arod hit into a DP, then we lose Tex’s bat. Nunez ran on his own, and once Arod walked you mine as well go all in and get the pinch runner set up to score from 2B. As for Swish, I could see you arguing to take him out in the 9th, but agan he was due up in the bottom half, and you dont gain too much more with golson, so why chance it. As it turned out, his bat ws needed in the 9th.

      I just think you nitpick on Girardi too much. That’s well with in your right, but he’s been getting a lot of criticism from people lately (some deserved but most of it I think is overreacting). He knows the team better than we do, so lets see how it plays out. every move doesn’t have to be analyzed is all I’m saying. Playoffs tho, u can open season on him if necessary.

      • bornwithpinstripes

        Joe G. when the yanks were looking to replace torre, i was rooting very hard for girardi..i wanted girardi to get the job as much as girardi did…i had a drink to celebrate him being hired. he has disappointed me so much from the first year until now..it is the same stuff we seen with torre..the guy is a great manager..but is not cut out for NY.look what he did for the marlins,they traded every body on him,and made a great run that year..he was poised, assertive, and fresh..i would like to see him go to chicago, rebuild and be the same guy he was with fla. and you are correct ,he is in the locker room, we sit behind a tv, i watch every game ,if i miss 2, 3 games a year , check my pulse,one day he goes by stats ,the book..every time in a big spot he runs over to that book..goes by trends ,then he jets off the stats..i mean does he really not know his players, and guys that have been around for years now, he has to keep looking in the book..did he not see kearns strike out time after time in hugh spots or hit in DPs, forget stats..he stunk..at one point he struck out 9 of 11 and one other time was a DP with no outs..all this in sept.he has two lefties in the pen vs tampa on a sunday i believe in tampa..he lets hughes stay in so a 200 hitter can hit his second 2 run HR of the game .a lefty ..when he had two guys in the pen..thats what gets me.. tex would come up 3 innings later if it went that far..