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water torture redux

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assuming they play tonight (a very iffy assumption), jeff weaver will probably start game 5 on full rest friday night; okay by me. game 6 should then go to reyes, who will be on extra rest and pitching in the tigers' gigantic ballpark, with carpenter available for game 7. there's talk of bringing carpenter back on short rest for game 6 saturday night, but his recent performances make that option seem increasingly stupid to me. he got weary down the stretch in september and became hittable, lost a couple big games (and likely the cy young award); and he looked gassed vs the mets in game 2 of the nlcs. then, with an extra day of rest, he comes out and dominates the tigers . . . . . seems like rest is a major issue for carp at this point. moreoever, if he pitches game 6 on short rest, he faces kenny rogers --- which means the cards would effectively cede the pitching-pairing advantage in a game that carpenter pitched. really, really stupid. far more sensible, imho, to preserve the giant advantage in the game 7 pairings (carp v robertson). if the cards can win just once in the next two home games, they go into game 6 with no danger of elimination; throw reyes on full rest, with rested carp in reserve. the alternative -- carp on short rest in game 6 -- would leave two options for game 7, if necessary: reyes (hah!) or suppan on short rest.

'nother rainout tonight, and we can run this exercise again tomorrow. and since it's likely to snow in detroit this weekend . . . . . maybe carp can just pitch every game.

rust watch: some people think the tigers' bats, red-hot during the 1st two rounds of the playoffs, went cold during the six-day layoff between the end of the alcs and the start of the world series. that's an arguable point; i don't necessarily buy it. but i raise it because the cardinal bullpen has now reached a similar state of dormancy. in the week since the cards won the nlcs, randy flores and josh kinney have faced just 3 batters apiece; tyler johnson has pitched to just 2; and closer adam wainwright has only faced one hitter, curtis granderson, whom he struck out. pitchers probably can stay sharp more easily than hitters, simply by throwing on the side and rehearsing their full complement of pitches; batting is a more situation-dependent skill, and it's more difficult to simulate a realistic context, so timing and reflexes might suffer. in any event, whenever they do play game 4 it's going to be important to get the bullpen -- particularly wainwright -- involved.

speaking of wainwright, his confrontation with carlos beltran in the final game of the nlcs truly was one for the ages, per the new republic:

It appears to have been only the tenth at-bat in baseball history in which each pitch could have resulted in a league pennant or championship for both the team at-bat and the team in the field.
actually, the same could be said for the at-bat that preceded beltran's; a lo duca home run would have clinched the pennant for the mets, while an out would have clinched it for st louis. in any case, baseball hadn't seen such a heavily fraught plate appearance since 1992, when francisco cabrera won the pennant for atlanta in nearly the same situation -- bases loaded, two outs, and a one-run spread on the scoreboard. cabrera is the only one of the 10 or so batters who've faced that situation to come through with a hit and deliver a walkoff victory; in all other cases the pitching team closed it out. hat tip to baseball musings for that link.

wait a sec --- one more almost-analogous at-bat occurred in the famous one-game playoff between the red sox and yankees to decide the 1978 al east divisional title. carl yastrzemski came to bat in the bottom of the 9th with two on, two out, and the sox trailing 5-4. he faced goose gossage with whole the season in the balance -- a hall-of-famer facing one of the greatest relievers in history. now that was a meaningful confrontation, even if didn't decide a pennant (merely a division). yaz fouled out to third; the yankees went on to repeat as world champs.

as long as we're rehashing last week's news: met fans are still debating whether willie randolph should have ordered a bunt after the first two men reached in the bottom of the 9th of game 7. the wall street journal's carl bialak has the most detailed breakdown of the situation i have yet seen; looks like the bunt might have been in order:

At my request, Mr. [Dan] Levitt found 398 situations in the 15 years from 1977 to 1992 in which a pinch-hitter was used in a situation similar to the one faced by the Mets: no outs, runners on first and second and the pitcher's spot up. Teams that bunted scored at least two runs on 35.5% of the occasions; those that did not scored on 31.7%.
now, it's not as if randolph could have halted the game, called dan levitt, and had him run a study on bunting before he made his decision. i also question how heavily randolph would have weighted that information even if he'd had it right in front of him. you couldn't blame him for saying, "to hell with the numbers; we're facing a rookie pitcher who's clearly nervous, let's go for the throat." maybe he said that very thing; if he did, it wasn't such a terrible call. wainwright did gather himself, to a point; he struck out floyd. but then he left a pitch up to jose reyes that got smoked -- lucky break, it sailed within range of jim edmonds' glove -- and walked lo duca on five pitches. in the end, randolph got himself about as good a set of circumstances as he could have hoped for -- an mvp candidate at the plate with a chance to win it all with one swing.