Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Good baseball managing

And it's got nothing to do with in-game strategy:

Monday night, in a post game interview after a series opening loss against the Angels, Rangers Manager Ron Washington was noticeably excited about the way his team had played that night's game.

This is good managing, as the Rangers team could've easily been demoralized by the particular loss, and by the circumstances of the series. The Rangers need to win the series against the division leading Angels. Failing to win the series, they are desperate for no worse than a split.

Monday's starting pitcher, Luis Mendoza, had given up 8 runs in 1 1/3 innings. Tuesday's scheduled starter: the recently promoted from AAA Dustin Nippert, had to pitch 7 innings in relief on Monday night. Wed night's scheduled starter, 22 year old never-pitched-in-the-majors Matt Harrison, was now going to have to start Tuesday. Also: never-pitched-in-the-majors AA finesse pitcher Mike Ballard was therefore going to have to start on Wed., against a potent Angels line-up. First year starter Scott Feldman was going to have to start on Thursday. In short, the Rangers stood a decent chance of getting swept in the series.

Instead, Ron Washington showed excitement over how the Rangers fought back Monday night - to the point they eventually got the tying run to the plate in the 9th. Then the Rangers showed up Tuesday and played outstanding baseball. Harrison went 7 innings, and gave up 2 runs, despite never throwing a pitch faster than 91 mph. His cute North Carolina fiancee cheered from the stands. 1B Chris Davis, with 35 career at bats under his belt, homered to give the Rangers a lead. Josh Hamilton later singled in Kinsler. Guardado got the hold; C.J. Wilson got the adventurous save*. The Rangers defeated 2008 American League All Star Pitcher Joe Saunders: 3-2.

I say: good managing during Monday night's post-game interview. The players took their cue from Washington's excitement about their play. The players believed they had a chance on Tuesday.


Rangers color commentator Tom Grieve:
"C.J. (Wilson) saved four games on the last road trip: two in New York, two in Baltimore; and it's the best he's thrown."

In the style of RH Mariano Rivera running fastballs in on a LH hitter, the LH C.J. sends running fastballs in on the hands of RH hitters. It's an outstanding pitch. C.J. can tail a 2 seam fastball down and away from RH, and he can zing a high 4 seamer at around 95 mph. So, to sum up: he throws three different fastballs at hitters, plus a slider, plus a change-up he can't control, and it all causes problems for hitters. When C.J. controls his various fastballs: he is outstanding.

*When C.J. threw a tentative ball to second base - messing up a potential game ending double play - Manager Ron Washington was filmed angrily screaming at C.J. from the dugout: "Throw the g**d***** ball!" Now that's good, and funny, managing.

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