Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Genius Maker #55 (Guest Blogger)

From Bruce Wigdor:

The original agreement between me and Steve was for me to do two games, but when Steve promised to pay me 10 times what he was giving me to write another one, I hastily agreed before realizing that, well, he wasn't paying me anything.

So I've got two Mets games to talk about. Friday night was dreary again, as the Yankee bats were almost invisible again. Another game where we wasted a great performance by our starting pitcher, with Vasquez pitching 7 innings of one run ball. Once again, we made a little noise in the 9th inning that amounted to nothing. All told, 0-9 with runners in scoring position.

A few things about Cervelli in Friday night's game. First of all, he went 2-4 with a double on a day where the offense was sleepng--nice job! He also threw out a basestealer from his knees--that's something I don't think we've seen in a Yankee catcher before. However, in the first inning, on the one run that Vasquez allowed, Cervelli should have been able to make the play at the plate. The throw had David Wright beat by a mile, but Cervelli went up the first baseline to receive the ball and then couldn't get back for the tag. If he stands on the plate and waits for the ball, it's an easy out.

Nick Swisher made a really bad baserunning blunder that fortunately went unpunished when he tagged from 1st base with the score 3-0, and would have been out if the throw were anywhere around the base. Maybe it was a case of trying to do too much to make something happen with the offense struggling, but killing potential rallies is the way sleeping offenses stay sleeping.

With the score 1-0 Mets going into the 8th, I expected to see Joba on the mound, but Girardi elected to go with Chan Ho Park and then Boone Logan, who were both ineffective. I would have done it differently, but it's not a no-brainer by any means.

On to Saturday's game:

The Yankees finally score some runs, and I miss it! I started watching this one in the 5th inning, so I missed all the runs. Texiera and Granderson each hit two run dingers to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead. Once I tuned in, it seemed like the same old weak offense I've been watching for the past 3 days, but it was enough thanks to Hughes settling down, not to mention strong outings from Joba and The Genius Maker.

Paul O'Neill said something that was flat out wrong in the 5th inning. Cora had just made a difficult play on a Swisher ground ball even harder by backing up on the ball, and Paul O starts talking about how sometimes you need to back up on the ball to get a better hop, instead of charging the ball into a short hop. Any of you out there who have played the infield already know that this is the opposite of what is true. Bad things happen when you back up on ground balls--you should only do it when there is no other way to get to the ball. I could go on and on about this, but like I said, anyone who has played the infield knows that this is true regardless of level of play. Bad announcing, Paul O--I hope little league parents were smart and quick enough to cover up their kids' ears!

Joba came in for the 8th, and threw nothing but 94-96 MPH fastballs to the first 3 batters. Finally Pagan pulled a two out double on a good fastball right on the inside corner--did Joba go to the well too often? I don't know--pitch selection is the kind of analysis you get from Steve that I can't give you. Anyway, with 2 outs and a man on 2nd, it was a total about face against Wright, as Joba threw him 4 straight breaking pitches: a terrible at bat for Wright, as the pitch he struck out on started out low and away and ended up in the dirt.

In the bottom of the 8th, with 2nd and 3rd and 1 out, I was surprised to see Manual pitch to Granderson with the righty, as opposed to walking him and going after Pena and Russo. Michael Kay said "that's because Manual knows that Pena is 6 for 9 lifetime with the bases loaded." Sorry, 9 ABs don't mean anything--Pena is a weak hitter who is hitting poorly even by his standards. Not only that, but later as Pena stepped to the plate, they flash up a graphic showing us that he is a miserable .214 this year with 2 outs and runners in scoring position.

I say it was a bad move; I think you need to set up the DP and force at home, not to mention pitching to the weaker hitter. Of course, the move worked, as Granderson struck out and Pena grounded out, so what do I know?

Enter Sandman...

3 up 3 down. The Genius Maker's control was not perfect, but the cutter was moving great, and he had a strikeout and let up two weak grounders.

It's just unbelievable. No one can hit him. There's never been a pitcher more capable of shutting a team down in a given inning like Rivera. Yes, the control is not where it's been in the past; Steve has talked about it here and I see exactly what he's saying. Perhaps it's the beginning of the end. But that's what I thought it was 3 years ago, after he had just had his only season with an ERA over 2.00 since 2002. Since then he has put up 2 Hall of Fame years, and is on pace for another one.

No one can hit him!

This year, with that lessened control, the OPS against Rivera is .398! .398!!! That's like a normal pitcher pitching to a lineup full of hitters all much worse than Joe Girardi! A lot worse!

No one can hit him!

With each 3 up and 3 down inning Mariano pitches this year, he gets closer and closer to having a career WHIP of 1.00. Right now, it's 1.01, as he has allowed 1118 baserunners in 1113 inning pitched in his career so far. What's more, throw out his first season in 1995 when he was an unsuccessful starter, and the numbers as a relief pitcher are 1017 baserunners in 1046 innings.

No one can hit him!

And of course, because they're even better, here the post season numbers for The Genius Maker: 8-1, 0.74 ERA, 39 saves, 0.77 WHIP.

No one can hit him!

This is so great. I hope you are all watching Rivera and savoring every moment the way I am; it's not often you can root for the undisputed greatest at what he does.

Enter Mo
End the show
Mow them down
All the way to Cooperstown

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