Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hat Trick

For the third time in a week, Eric Gagne let a Red Sox lead in the late innings go up in smoke as allowed three runs in the ninth inning after a great 8th inning rally by the Red Sox, and they could only manage a split in Friday's doubleheader with a 7-5 loss in Game 2.

Gagne has now allowed a truly astounding 10 runs and 14 hits in just six innings in a Red Sox uniform (that is a 15.00 ERA for those of you keeping score at home). There is something clearly wrong with him, as he had all kinds of trouble locating his fastball again, and the Angels hitters were waiting on it.

You now have to wonder if Terry Francona can afford to keep going to Gagne in the late innings with a lead. He used Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon in Game 1, so using Gagne to close made all the sense in the world and I had no problem with him doing it. And especially since Gagne showed flashes of his old self in getting the win over Tampa Bay last Tuesday. Any goodwill Gagne started to get had again evaporated, and the boo birds will be back out in full force. It's now in Francona's court what to do with him. (I'm glad I don't have to make that decision.)

The Sox got a great effort from Josh Beckett (7 innings and two runs) and a lousy one from Manny Delcarmen (one inning and two runs), and they pulled off a great comeback in the eighth, getting four runs to grab a 5-4 lead, led by David Ortiz' two-run double. Papi had big hits in both games, which is a great sign, and J.D. Drew had five hits in the twinbill.

Then Gagne came in and ruined everyone's night.

But it wasn't finished with Gagne's torching. Kevin Youkilis clearly fouled tipped a two-strike pitch in the ninth, which got away from the Angels' catcher. Youk was called out, and he and Terry Francona both went bananas (pictured), with Tito getting tossed. Replays clearly showed both the home plate and first base umps (Brian Runge and Mark Wegner) got the call very wrong. (Hey umps, if Youk didn't foul off the pitch, why didn't he run to first when the ball skipped by the catcher?)

Just goes to what I've been saying all year. MLB is loaded with incompetent umpires who blow even the simplest of calls. I have not seen so many blown calls in my life than this season, and I'm not just talking about the ones going against the Red Sox either. Rarely now do I see a game where something is not missed. Runge called a horrible game behind the plate, and that was for both teams. I hope both those lousy umps have the decency to come out and admit tomorrow that they blew the call on Youk in the ninth.

But of course, being MLB umpires, they won't. Complete imbeciles.


Anonymous said...

"You now have to wonder if Terry Francona can afford to keep going to Gagne in the late innings with a lead."

I don't think there's any wonder to it at all. The answer is NO. Not unless you want to kill both him and us...

"Rarely now do I see a game where something is not missed.

That foul call was the icing on the cake, wasn't it? All the air is taken out of the park after the Gagne disaster, and then beautifully topped off by the worst call in the history of the game. I mean, that was right up there w/Jeffrey Maier and the phantom tag.

I have a list of umps I want tossed. C.B. Buckner heads the list, but Brian Runge is right up there behindhim.

Jeff Faria said...

Gagne has a history that says he CAN do the job. They got him on that basis, and they have to make a concerted attempt to help him right himself. A few frustrating games isn't enough to throw that away.

The Omnipotent Q said...

I certainly don't advocate burying Gagne. They need him to take the pressure off Okajima and Papelbon as the season winds down. Okajima is on pace to pitch more innings than he ever pitched in Japan. I was really hoping that last Tuesday was a sign of good things to come from Gagne, but now you have to wonder.

The umpiring overall continues to get worse and worse, but I'm no advocate of instant replay in baseball. Games are long enough now. MLB still has to do something to weed out these incompetents like Bucknor and Runge.

Unknown said...

How many times does Gagne have to turn a win into a loss before he's dumped for good. I say 3. Bye bye Gagne, you truly suck.

Michael Leggett said...

Umpire comes from the Latin Word "Nonpere", which as translated, means "Not Fair":

Runge & Co are "Nonperes"

Jeff Faria said...

Here's a player Catwoman and Matt would have dumped for nonperformance:

It's not that I am unconcerned about Gagne, and I would want to find a way to ease him back into his groove rather than bringing him in with games on the line (if such a thing is possible). I've seen players suffer inexplicable, irredeemable collapses before (Chuck Knoblauch, anyone?).

It's possible that Gagne never recovers his previous form, and that we'll never know why. But it's not as if Gagne is unaccustomed to big-media towns or high-pressure situations. And up until now, he was having a fine year. So I suggest bearing with him is the way to go, painful as that is right now. The downside is losing some ground in the race. It may even be possible to fall out of contention (including wild card) altogether. The upside, though, is to have a recovered Gagne carry a big share of the bullpen load coming into the playoffs, enabling a FRESH pen going into those big series.

In fact, I suspect it is the Sox' thinking to have him carry that load whether he performs well or not, whether the fans like it or not. If he continues to throw gopher balls, the Sox brass probably just hope they sneak into the playoffs despite him. In which case, THEN they'll relegate him to the back of the bus.

The unpires do have problems. Hopefully those do not include NBA-style game fixing. I'll put up with a certain amount of incompetence as long as I never see the kind of grim headlines we've seen regarding NBA refs.

That said, that fould call WAS galling. Geez. And I've seen Buckner deliberately call strikes this year, in a Yankee series, because he felt a batter showed him up. (He's done the same with Messina, refusing to call strikes when the pitcher pissed him off.) That kind of thing should not be tolerated. Remember, though, that the umpires' union has never been wisely managed.

Others have noticed Runge... and as far as Buckner is concerned...

The Omnipotent Q said...

I'm really glad the Sox stuck with Pedroia after his rough April start. I've been a fan of his since last September. He's an All-Star in the making.

Thanks for the interesting links, Mr. Snitch...