21 August 2009

A Tale of Two Intentional Walks

Game 122 Unfair Loss Shares ( Cubs )

Soriano -- 1
Baker -- 1
Guzman -- 1

Top of the third, Cubs have just tied the game at two. Runners at second and third, and only one out. Weaver is a frayed thread from coming completely unraveled. This is the moment when the Cubs could have buried the Dodgers and won the game. Torre doubles down and walks Fukudome intentionally to load the bases. Soriano comes up, the $136 million disappointment, and he --- disappoints. Disappoints Cubs fans, anyway. Hear that? Hear that sound? You don't hear anything, do you? ( If you are hearing something as you read this, pretend you don't hear anything. Stuff some cotton in your ears. ) That nothing you hear is the sound of Soriano whiffing on three straight pitches. Three Jeff Weaver pitches. ( Okay, the first strike was a foul off, and that probably made a sound, but that's just a pesky detail. ) Then Jeff Baker came up, and he struck out on four pitches. And that was it for the Cubs. There would be no grand slam, or bases clearing double, or run forcing walk. There would only be disappointment, and the lingering question that defines the entire Cubs season so far: How could something that once seemed so promising turn out so poorly?

Game 122 Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Martin -- 2
Furcal -- 1

Torre is getting kind of desperate, I guess. He manages like a man who doesn't believe in his team. He manages as if disaster will follow if the Dodgers allow the other team to pull one run ahead, which must be part of the reason why he risked loading the bases with one out in the third inning. ( Of course, a bigger part of the reason is likely that Fukudome is a considerably better hitter than Soriano. ) Torre also manages as if it is vital that the Dodgers pull ahead by even one run, even if the chance at a higher scoring inning is compromised. I believe that's part of why he had Hudson sacrifice Manny and Blake over in the bottom of the sixth inning. He wanted that runner on third with one out. The Dodgers struggle to get the big hit, so put them into a situation where they don't even need a hit to score a run, even if it means giving up an out and an opportunity for another baserunner.

Pinella was just as desperate, just as willing to raise the stakes as Torre. He ordered ( or allowed to be ordered, at least ) the intentional walk of Loney, therefore loading the bases for Russell Martin with one out. Through their choices both Pinella and Torre had essentially gambled the entire inning on Russell Martin's at bat. His at bat was a double play waiting to happen. It was a walk waiting to happen. It was a strikeout waiting to happen. It was a scoring fly ball waiting to happen. In this disappointing but still sometimes productive season for Russell Martin, it was everything waiting to happen except the one thing that happened. That will score a run! --- I shouted, when he hit it, a high and deep fly ball. Well, I was wrong. It would score four.


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