Fire Jim Tracy – March 31st
I was concerned that the first edition of this series would be difficult to do tonight, since there was just one game on the schedule. However, I failed to notice that Ron Washington was managing the first game of the year. This may be the first time we see Wash appear in these electronic pages this year, but it won't be the last. You can take that to the bank.
Ron Washington – First time of the year
Infraction – Inept Bullpen usage
When – Bottom of the 6th
Game Score – Down by 2 runs
Game Situation – 2 out, Runner on 1st and 2nd.
With starter Matt Harrison having walked two batters earlier in the inning, and showing fatigue as hit pitch count tipped over the 100 mark, Ron Washington decided it was time to go to the bullpen. Now I’m aware that its just the 6th inning, but this was an incredibly high leverage situation. At this point, the Astros were already 85% likely to win the game, and a base hit would put the game out of reach.
Now was the time to go to one of your higher quality relievers, whether that was Tanner Scheppers, or Jason Frasor against righties, or Robbie Ross vs. lefties. I’m not being so aggressive to ask that he goes to the closer here, but Washington opted to turn to the 12th man on his pitching staff Derek Lowe.
This is wrong for a myriad of reasons. First Lowe isn’t very good. The past two years his ERA has been north of 5. Secondly, had there been less than two out, I could’ve understood this, because Lowe’s main asset is his sinker generates groundballs better than almost anyone in baseball. But when you don’t need a double play, his lack of strikeout ability is a huge problem. In this situation the last thing you want is to have balls put in play, so turning to a pitcher who strikes out less than 9% of the batters he faces, is just asking for trouble.
This got even worse, when Houston manager Bo Porter turned to his bench to call on left handed bat Rick Ankiel to hit for . This is something that Washington should’ve been anticipating, since Brandon Barnes is a platoon outfielder, and with left handed Ankiel waiting this was push button managing at its finest.
Result – Shockingly Rick Ankiel didn’t put the ball in play against Lowe. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that’s because it sailed into the outfield bleachers, and gave the Astros a 5 run lead that they’d never look back from. Lets all credit Ron Washington for helping give Houston their first win as an American League franchise.
I'll likely be back with my first "Hire Manny Acta" of the season, focusing Bo Porter later tonight.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Mentoch, and read my Blue Jays related content at www.BlueJaysPlus.com