Wednesday, October 6, 2010
You can't blame Dusty Baker for this one
One half of the Phillies' Game 1 victory -- or if you prefer, the Reds' Game 1 loss -- absolutely demands attention from card-carrying members of the American Second-Guessing Association of America (ASGAA).
Cincinnati rookie Travis Wood debuted in the majors on the 1st of July, and essentially was the Reds' best starting pitcher for the rest of the esason. He won just five times in 17 starts, but posted a 3.51 ERA and a brilliant 3.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That latter figure was easily the best among Cincinnati's starters.
Wood also gave up only nine home runs in 103 innings; that ratio, too, was the best on the staff.
One might have argued, 24 hours ago, that Travis Wood was the best starting pitcher available to Dusty Baker.
One might also have argued that Baker needed to deploy at least one left-handed starting pitcher against the Phillies, who rely so heavily on left-handed hitters in the heart of their lineup: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez.
Unfortunately, only two left-handed pitchers started even one game for the Reds all season: Wood and Matt Maloney (a junkballer who started twice in July).
More unfortunately, Baker opted to leave Wood out of his Division Series rotation. What makes things even easier for the ASGAA: after Baker's Game 1 starter, right-hander Edinson Volquez, got knocked out in the second inning, Travis Wood trotted in from the bullpen and retired 10 of the 12 batters he faced.*
* Members of the American Rationalists of America (ARA) -- sworn enemies of the ASGAA -- will point out that Volquez did just fine against the left-handed hitters he faced, and it was mostly right-handed hitters and switch-hitters who did most of the damage. Don't listen to the ARA. They're just a bunch of curmudgeons.
The bottom line is that you're going to have a hard enough time beating the Phillies, but a harder time if you can't throw either a Cy Young candidate or a tough left-hander against them.
The Reds don't have anything like a Cy Young candidate. And Baker chose against his only tough left-hander. So it shouldn't be a surprise that the Phillies scored enough runs to win.
But of course that's just half the game, the half in which the Phillies batted.
There's nothing to second-guess about the other half, the half in which the Reds batted. Cincinnati won 91 games this season and led the National League in scoring, with essentially the same lineup that Dusty Baker deployed in Game 1.
Unfortunately, Charlie Manuel deployed the best pitcher in the National League.
More unfortunately, that pitcher threw one of the greatest games that any pitcher has ever thrown in the postseason.
In the end, this just wasn't a good day for the ASGAA.
Or for anyone who had to bat against Roy Halladay.