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Game 115 Open Thread: August 11 2005

re yesterday's game, i recommend Brew Crew Ball's parsing of the decision to let ben sheets hit for himself in the 7th with two on, one out, and the cards up 1-0. a truly boneheaded decision -- a pivotal at-bat late in the game, entrusted to a player with a batting average of (literally) .000: sheets is 0 for 36 on the year with 12 strikeouts. the win-expectancy chart accompanying Brew Crew's commentary is very illustrative; as he notes, "the `volatility' of the Sheets AB was 51.8% -- that's the difference between the resulting win probabilities if the batter homers or Ks." in other words, you have a chance to break the game open. even a measly single would have tied the game and brought up the top of the order with two on and one out -- a potential big inning. that's what the brewers should have been playing for in that situation. instead yost chucked a crucial at-bat out the window and left it all up to .230-hitting chris magruder. why, that's almost as dumb as putting on a squeeze play in the top of the first inning . . .

la russa claims he would have played the sheets at-bat the same way yost did, which does nothing to validate the decision as far as i'm concerned . . . .

apropos of the projected cardinal lineup i posted yesterday, bellyitcher is thinking along the same lines. "Are there some guys we can call up from AA for the weekend series with the Cubs?" she asks. al yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue took a look at the batting order and sent me this note: "The way we're going, that lineup would probably beat us 10-0." i wrote back:

i swear la russa's having a competition with himself --- how far can i push this scrub-lineup thing? how far do i dare?

to me it just reinforces the oldest baseball cliché there is ---- the game's about pitching. hold 'em to seven hits and two runs over two days, and you'll probably win both games even if you field a team of single-a hitters.

al's current post at BCB is titled "Embarrassing"; he conjures visions of the 1980 cubs (they went 64-98) and has a hilarious reminiscence of a 1965 drubbing at the hands of the 10th-place new york mets, a 50-112 team. guy's a great writer even in the throes of an 8-game losing streak. not to rub it in, but here are the nl central standings since the all-star break:

stl: 17-9
hou: 17-9
cin: 17-9
mil: 14-13
chi: 11-16
pit: 9-18

tom verducci at sports illustrated has an interesting tidbit about greg maddux's career line. mad dog pitches for the cubs today opposite mark mulder, of whom i boldly predicted two months ago, just before his struggles became acute: "i suspect he will pitch well against the cubs, who lack the discipline to exploit mulder's weaknesses. they'll take their hacks, and likely wind up with a lot of groundball outs." still makes sense to me, but i'll give myself this out in case the cubs hammer him: in chicago they still play baseball in the (gulp) daytime, which has been mulder's bane in 2005: 6.93 era, .346 avg against.

mulder maddux
13-5, 3.78 8-9, 4.57