October 3, 2002

Mystique and Aura 1, Rally Monkey 1

Now, that was a baseball game!

Last night's Yankees/Angels game was a great one, exactly what post-season baseball is all about.

We got dramatic home runs, "interesting" managerial decisions and a closer closing out the game (not before he made it interesting, of course).

The big story of the game (aside from the Angels winning) seems to be Mike Scioscia's decision to bring Brendan Donnelly into the game in the 8th inning.

With 1 out and a man on 1st and 2nd, John Vander Wal (a left handed batter) pinch hit for Juan Rivera.

Scioscia took Ben Weber out of the game (Weber injured himself) and instead of bringing in his closer, Troy Percival, to get the final 5 outs of the game, he decided to bring in Brendan Donnelly.

Now, even those of you with memories only slightly better than the guy from Memento should be able to recall that Donnelly is the same guy that gave up the 3-run homer to Bernie Williams the night before.

While I thought Scioscia's decision to bring Donnelly, instead of Percival, into a tie game was a mistake in game 1, I did not have much of a problem with his decision last night.

Scioscia obviously feels as though he would rather have Donnelly facing a left handed hitter than Percival.

Here are Donnelly's splits:

versus righties = .148/.236/.167

versus lefties = .242/.316/.379

If you are going to bring Donnelly into a game to face a certain handed hitter, it should be probably be a righty, not lefty.

However, even though Donnelly didn't dominate lefties as much as he did righties this season, he was still a lot better against them than Percival was.

Here are Percival's stats against lefties this year:

.247/.366/.441 with 5 homers in 93 at bats.

Basically, Troy Percival had a tough time with lefties this year.

I am positive that Scioscia is well aware of the same stats I just showed to you and because of that he wanted to keep Percival away from Vander Wal (especially with 2 men on base).

I actually think Scioscia made a good decision last night.

The Angels reliever that had the most success against left handed batter this season was Scott Schoeneweis (.202/.268/.341).

However, if Scioscia would have gone to Schoeneweis (a lefty) against Vander Wal, Joe Torre would likely have sent Shane Spencer (a righty) to the plate, thus wiping away the Angels' edge.

So, instead of brining in the left-handed Schoeneweis to likely face Spencer, Scioscia went with the right-handed Donnelly, who also does well against lefties and who is right-handed.

Scioscia knew that Torre would stick with Vander Wal against Donnelly.

In any event, it was a very gutsy move on Scioscia's part, especially considering what Donnelly did the game before.

One final note on the Yankees/Angels...

Derek Jeter is just not a good fielding shortstop.

He has almost no range on balls hit up the middle.

In my series preview I said, "We should be seeing a lot of bouncing ground balls that get by the outstretched gloves of Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano."

There have been at least 7-8 balls that have avoided Soriano's and particularly Jeter's gloves in this series.

When a ball goes up the middle, Jeter "dives" like someone just shot him in the stomach and inevitably, the ball rolls past his glove and into the outfield.

He has a great arm and decent range to his glove side, which is what keeps him from becoming a complete disaster out there.

No matter what you think about his defense, the man can hit though.

Although, with 2 strikes he might wanna think about hacking if the pitch is close (just joking Yankee fans, I think the 3rd strike call was a bad one).

In sadder news...

The Twins got their butts kicked yesterday afternoon.

Joe Mays started and was bad from the start, allowing a 3-run homer to Eric Chavez in the 1st inning.

Between the pitch before Chavez's homer and Chavez's homer, Joe Morgan and Jon Miller had this actual exchange:

Jon Miller: "What do you think Joe, right handed hitter on deck and 1st base open..."

Joe Morgan: "Nope, I think it is early in the game and Joe Mays should be looking to go right after Chavez."

Mays delivers the pitch...

Jon Miller: "Chavez hits a three run homer..."

Mays didn't make it out of the 4th inning and was replaced by Tony Fiore, who promptly gave up a walk, a 3-run triple and a 1-run double.

Not a pretty game for the Twins, who once again struggled big time against a quality left handed starter.

Gardenhire did the smart thing (and 50% of what I suggested he do) replacing David Ortiz with Matthew LeCroy as the DH against Mulder, but he left Jacque Jones in there, which I think is a very bad move (and the other 50% of my suggestion).

I know Jones had a big hit off of a lefty in game 1, but one hit does not wipe away an entire career of not being able to hit lefties.

They are facing another tough task in game three starter Barry Zito (another lefty).

Hopefully the Metrodome will provide the Twins with a little "Mystique and Aura" of their own and they will find a way to score some runs off of Zito.

I still think my "Oakland in four" prediction will probably be correct.

In the 3rd game of the day, the Giants made me look good by beating Atlanta 8-5.

Barry Bonds (who know has a nifty little "Playoff Tracker" on the left hand side of this page) was robbed of a sure home run by Andruw Jones (think Torii Hunter in the All-Star game, but not quite as impressive).

On the day he went 1-4 with a single, a walk and a run scored.

So Bonds wasn't the hero, but the guy batting directly behind him was.

Yep, that's right, Benito Santiago went 3-5 with a double and 2 RBIs.

Russ Ortiz also pitched well.

So far my prediction that "great offense will beat great pitching" is looking okay, but it is still very early.

Enjoy the games today...

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