when jason marquis was left in for 132 pitches in a 2-1 loss to the padres on july 27, a few of you called la russa on it -- ie, with jason at 100 pitches through 8 innings, and the bullpen well-rested, you thought it was a mistake to send him back out there for the 9th, in which marquis yielded a walkoff single to robert fick. at that time i didn't think it was such a terrible move by tony, but you guys were right: in his two starts since that game, marquis' velocity has been down significantly. i went back and looked at his last several outings on mlb.tv (which archives the broadcasts). in the game vs san diego he was hitting 93, 94 on the gun with his fastball, still at 90-91 in the late innings. but monday night against florida he topped out at 89 and was consistently at 87-88; then yesterday he was consistently at 86-67, only hit 89 for one pitch. the pitch andruw jones spanked for a grand-slam was an 85 mph fastball. . . .
i went back and looked at a few earlier starts just to make sure -- it seemed to me that jason always used to top 90 with his fastball, and indeed he routinely did hit 93-94 until the last couple of starts. even on july 21, in a sweltering day game at busch, marquis -- though not pitching well and obviously uncomfortable in the heat -- was getting it up there at 91 all afternoon.
not only has his velocity been down in both of these last two starts, but so has jason's stamina -- he's hit a wall in the 6th inning both times out, after only 80 pitches on monday and about 60 yesterday. it is only two starts, and there may be some other explanation for it -- but in his determination to get marquis win #10 that night in san diego, la russa may have committed a serious blunder. we'll learn more next time jason throws -- next thursday afternoon at wrigley field. here's hoping the wind is blowing in . . . .
it was nice to see terry pendleton taking down the countdown card yesterday (tag-teaming with buck o'neill). TP has always been one of my favorites; indeed, he's the main reason i became an admirer of the braves in the early 1990s. incredibly smart, even-keeled player -- quiet but hard-nosed, never a hot dog, never intimidated. i believe pendleton was one of the wellsprings of the braves' remarkable consistency and professionalism through the 1990s. when he signed with the braves in 1991 they were coming off a last-place finish. they were talented but young; pendleton taught them how to win. he was named nl mvp that year as much for his leadership as for his statistics; the braves claimed the first of their 14 consecutive nl east crowns and have never looked back. pendleton left the team after 1994 and bounced around a few more years, rejoined the franchise as a coach several years ago; but his influence and approach, i believe, have been passed down through the successive generations of atlanta's long-running juggernaut.
i've always thought his limited availability in the 1987 world series (he couldn't swing the bat right-handed due to injury) cost the cardinals the series . . . . anyway, all my affection to you TP. great player, great person.