Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A Low Point in a Very Bad Year by Ed Stern

Marty; Yesterday’s game against a good St. Louis team, a game in which the Giants blew a four run lead in the ninth inning, once again raises meaningful questions. Alou’s handling of his pitching staff inevitably continues to be questioned. Additionally,and not as inevitable, from a fan’s perspective, not the perspective of a beat reporter covering the team, one questions the established trend wherein starting pitchers are not expected or even desired to go the route, and a bullpen has so-called sixth inning pitchers, seventh inning pitchers, eighth inning setup men and closers.

Clicl below for more of Ed’s story.
The way the game is played today is exemplified by the high regard in which a pitcher such as Rueter was held for years by the Giants. This was a pitcher who seldom made it past the fifth inning, who had an ERA year in and year out in the neighborhood of four to five runs per nine inning game. People were unduly impressed by a won-lost record which was attained as a result, in the main, of the team managing to win games in which they led at the end of Rueter’s five, not particularly noteworthy,innings. The Giants, during most of these years, had strong teams with high winning records, which contributed significantly to Rueter’s winning average.

A close examination of yesterday’s loss provides a paradigm of how Alou has handled his pitching this year. Hennessey starts and pitches into the eighth inning. He gives up no runs, five hits, and throws 120 pitches. The Giants have a two run lead. Alou, in an unlikely gesture has, in the words of the local reporter “allowed” Hennessey to throw 120 pitches. Apparently, no thought was given to allowing Hennessey to try and pitch his own way out of the inning.

Hawkins comes in, gives up a single and is immediately lifted for Eyre. Eyre gets his one batter out and is lifted for an overworked Walker, who manages to survive the inning.

The score remains two to nothing, the Giants score two runs in the ninth, giving them a four run lead. But staring them in the face is the fact that Alou has used his two most reliable pitchers, Eyre and Hawkins, to pitch to two batters in the eighth. He has nothing left for the ninth. He is expecting to get four outs from Walker, an unrealistic expectation, given the constant use of Walker in recent days.

The Cards score the five runs in the ninth, which they needed to win the game. The rookie Accardo, and the weary Christiansen give up the winning run.

After the game,Alou is quoted as saying, “We have some guys here who have been overworked, whose arms are tired”. Christiansen’s response is “Really. He’s just figured that out.”

There is not much reason to believe that Christiansen’s response doesn’t reflect the attitude of others in the bullpen.
This isn’t a bad relief staff. They have pitched well, for the most part, this season, as Christiansen pointed out in one of his comments. Alou’s predilection for insisting on the lefty-righty, batter-pitcher setup, irrespective of the situation, has contributed to his overuse of pitchers. Eyre has been in more games than any other pitcher in the league.

Alou thinks nothing of using three or four pitchers in the 7th or 8th. This leaves him shorthanded when the need arises later, as it did yesterday. Additionally, one should not overlook the factor that whenever a pitcher warms up in the bullpen, whether he is used thereafter or not, whether he throws to one batter only or more,, his bullpen effort is taking something out of him. When August roles around, his pitchers have little left, as Christiansen pointed out.

Left for another day is the question whether there will come a time when some adventurous manager might decide that today’s pitchers might, once in a while, be expected to go the distance or, at least, attempt to do so. It might be too much to expect a Marichal, with more complete games than wins, to show up. It is discouraging,however, to note what is happening with Matt Cain, down in Fresno.

Cain, from what has to be, admittedly, a fairly casual reading of the daily press, infrequently is asked to go more than six innings. When he is called up, do they expect him to give them more than he was giving them in Fresno? Cain is believed to be the best prospectr thay have. If Seattle’s Hernadez, at age 19, can be brought up and turn in lengthy, winning efforts, why are the expectations for Cain limited?

These comments, for whatever they may be worth, are written from a fan’s vantage point. The local reporters, who have access to the players, the managers, the trainers, the statisticians, may have answers which are not immediately available to those of us who simply follow the game from day to day, even if those days have stretched out over many, many years. If there are ready answers from more knowledgable folks, let’s hear them.



1 Anonymous { 08.22.05 at 1:41 am }


do you remember the playoff games in Miami, do you remember when Joe Nathan came in and threw 4 balls and was immediately yanked , they lost the games and when Nathan spoke out he was banished –to superstardom in Minnesota, traded for an idiot

the team has major talent but no chemistry — this in not the Craig Rosen SF Giants —just go to Oakland games, watch the players, see how the pitchers are handled — the reason the Giants are struggling is they are 25 guys doing 25 different things — no common identity, no unity, just a mechanical assembly built around a marketing plan more than around a cohesive baseball purpose

sure the stadium cost a lot, but to be honest, Candlestick was a lot more fun in the Hum Baby days, wwhen guys were busting it

2 Anonymous { 08.22.05 at 11:17 am }

I don’t see the major talent. Other than Alou and Vizquel, major talents who, unfortunately, are now pushing forty, where are they? Schmidt, perhaps, a few young pitchers who show promise but are from established major talents?
As for looking with approval at “the way (A’s) pitchers are handled”, I picked up the paper today and I note that Blanton was pulled after pitching seven scoreless innings, striking out the side in the seventh, with Macha’s explanation that he had thrown 99 pitches and therefore it was time to pull him. Need I mention that the A’s bullpen then went on to lose the game? Alou apparently is not unwilling to allow pitchers to go into late innings. It’s when he does pull them that his handling of the bullpen becomes questionable.


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