Saturday, April 23, 2005

How to Win an Extra-Inning Game

After watching his team score 2 in the top of the 9th against the D'Rays, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona sent out lefty reliever Alan Embree to face righthanded Eduardo Perez, who promptly hit the game-winning HR. A (typical) disgruntled Red Sox fan expressed his (typical) frustration, believing closer Keith Foulke should have gotten the call. I'm here to tell him and you- he's wrong. Why? Your team has just tied it up and is now playing for the win on the road, which would mean holding your opponent and going into extras. If you put your closer in immediately and the game goes deep into extras, you are in the same exact situation- you need a guy like Embree to hold the opponent scoreless to win it. I would expect a manager to play matchups (which Francona was attempting), using relievers in spots against certain hitters until you get a lead or absolutely need to put the closer in. Keep in mind that on the road, you want your closer in later in order to lock down the W, but at home, if they touch up your closer, you can still come back and tie it up or win it in the bottom of the inning. And don't give me the argument about "stepping it up" in baseball. Sure, you hit more defensively, attempt to move the runners over to eek out a run...but the more you think, the more you physically press at the plate or on the mound, the more you swing through pitches or miss your catcher's target. In football or basketball, you can push your body to the limit, but in baseball, it's all about strategy and playing steady, heady ball. To win an extra-inning game (on the road), you play the matchups of righty and lefty batters vs pitchers, and you don't put your closer in the game until you get the lead and need an automatic shutout inning. What's the point of putting him in, only to continue into extra-innings and have a middle reliever give up the game-winner?


At 3:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the "go for the tie on the road" strategy. But it also depends on the team that you're playing. The Devil Rays have one of, if not the worst home attendance in all of baseball. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more sawx fans there than D-Rays supporters. Plus Tropicana Field is not the most imposing of ballparks for visitors to play in. Francona made the right move by putting in his best lefty reliever to face the worst team in baseball. The situation does have some exceptions. If the sawx were at the Stadium, I am certain that Francona would bring in Foulke just to get the game to extras. I definitely agree that Francona made the right decision against that team and in that situation.

At 4:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

jason is wrong, tim is right, we already had the argument and im not typing it out again.

At 7:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where has good old TOM been? That doesn't matter, but the doc is back in the house to disagree. How often does an extra inning game go beyond 10-11 innings? When it is the extra innings, the game is about to be closed = put in closer who is better than Embree. Yes, the Rays aren't the best team, and all that other stuff "Chris" said, but you put in the closer when the game is ending. The fact that it's the Devil Rays means that the Sox should be able to end it even sooner. PUT IN CLOSER.


Post a Comment

<< Home