I think one of the things I’m kind of fascinated with in the postseason (as compared to the regular season) is how the teams use their pitching staff. I guess I’m used to watching teams push their starters to go as long as possible, preferably at least 7 innings to set up the 8th inning guy before calling on their closer. (Using the early 2014 Yankees as an example: Tanaka pitches innings 1-7, Betances comes in for the 8th, and then Robertson to close for the save and win.) But in the postseason, if a pitcher makes it to the 7th inning (and I’m not even talking about finishing that inning), it’s seems to be rather a rarity anymore.
I was talking with my brother before and during the game comparing both teams’ strengths and weaknesses. And he made mention about the rotating bullpen that seems to be rather popular in October. So, I guess does this break down to a sign of weakness or strength to the current status of the pitching staff? Does this frequent pitching change signify that the pitching staff isn’t strong enough to meet the intensity of the postseason pressure? Or is it simply a sign that the bullpens are so strong that teams can cycle through their pitchers to meet whatever strategy the manager is playing during the game? I suppose it’s somewhere in between those two, but I’m thinking it’s also just because the managers’ strategies to win is so much more desperate than the 162-game season-long effort to make it to this point. If I had time, I think I would try to research whether the quantity of pitchers affects the outcome of the game.
But perhaps that’s the problem all along — quantity over quality. I think anyone would rather have good quality pitching that a whole bunch of mediocre stuff. So can quantity also add up to quality sometimes? Maybe. Maybe not. This postseason’s been rather a mixed bag of results in that respect.
To put things into perspective, tonight’s starters each pitched into the 6th inning but didn’t complete it, getting into trouble quickly. Both threw 76-77 pitches total, allowing 4 hits a piece. But what made the difference was their relievers. Tonight, that landed in the Royals’ favor, but just barely.
Offensively, it was rather quiet for both teams after two games where the winner would score 7 runs. The Giants starter allowed a lead-off double, who advanced to 3rd on a ground out before scoring on another ground out. The Royals spent the rest of their game defending their lead. However, both pitchers kept the opposing teams pretty tight. Until that 6th inning, that is.
The Royals got first crack at denting the Giants’ defense — an RBI double and an RBI single pushed the Royals up to a 3-0 score over the Giants. But then when the Giants were up to bat, the chipped away at the Royals’ lead — an RBI double and an RBI ground out put the score at 3-2 Royals. Both teams were into their bullpens before the end of the inning, and like I said above, it just went the Royals’ way tonight. And that 6th inning score would become permanent 3 innings later.
World Series Game 3: Royals over Giants 3-2, Royals lead series 2-1
Before tonight’s game, retiring MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was on hand to present this year’s Roberto Clemente Award to two deserving (and non-World Series playing) players — Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and recently retired White Sox legend Paul Konerko. It is usually given to just one player per year, but apparently, voting tied Rollins and Konerko, so they decided to split the award. The Roberto Clemente Award is an annual award given to the players who embody both the spirit and professionalism of MLB as well as make an active impact in their communities. After each team nominates their candidate, a mixture of fan votes and a panel established by the wife of the late Pirates’ legend select the final award winners every year. Rollins’ philanthropy includes programs to assist inner-city students as well as various fundraisers for noble causes and foundations. Konerko and his family co-established foundation that helps foster families connect, develop, and thrive. (Past Yankee winners include Ron Guidry, Don Baylor, and Derek Jeter.)
And for “This Day in Yankee History”, we travel back to 1996. The Yankees are facing off against the Braves in the World Series. The Series is tied 2-2, and 24-year-old Andy Pettitte started Game 5 and prepared to throw what will be one of the best games of his career. It would be easily the tightest game in the 1996 Series. Pettitte threw 96 pitches, struck out 4, allowed 5 hits and 3 walks, but no runs over his 8.1 innings. Yes, Pettitte threw a World Series shutout. But the Yankees only cobbled together one run of their own — an RBI double in the 4th inning. It would be enough with the way the young southpaw was throwing that night in Georgia. And one more win later, back in the Bronx, and the Yankees would win their first Series since 1978 and start the beginning of the Third Dynasty (often referred to as the “Torre Days”) and their first of 4 Championships in 5 years.