I thought I was watching the Twins last night

Posted on October 4th, 2007 – 8:18 AM
By Howard

But it was really the Cubs.

Lou Piniella, the Cubs manager, had decided before the game that Carlos Zambrano was on a pitch count because he was coming back to start Game 4 on three days of rest. And that’s why he was limited to 85 pitches and yanked after six innings of a 1-1 tie at Arizona. And Piniella brought in set-up guy Carlos Marmol, who had become his main set-up guy. By the time Marmol was done in the seventh, Arizona had a 3-1 lead … and a few minutes later a 3-1 victory.

Not knowing as much about most of guys on the postseason teams as I know about the Twins, I go looking for statistics that would scare me (or give me comfort) about using peoplde in certain situations. For all of his good numbers, Marmol walked 19 batters in 30 2/3 innings over the last two months of the season. That’s a scary one.

Sure, Marmol is going to have to play a role if the Cubs are going to advance in the postseason, but Game 4 doesn’t happen unless you win one of the first three games — and Zambrano was the Cubs’ best bet to grab the lead on the road in the series. Further, Zambrano pitched only once this season on three days of rest — and it was his only loss in his final five starts. (Returning to regular rest, Zumbrano pitched 13 scoreless innings in two outings coming into the playoffs.)

It kind of reminded me of a certain playoff opener in 2006, when Gardy pulled Johan from a 2-1 game after eight innings (included only two hits and one walk allowed from innings three through eight) and Frank Thomas led off the ninth by taking Jesse Crain very, very deep. That homer rendered the Twins’ run in the bottom of the ninth kinda moot.

Earlier yesterday, Boston manager Terry Francona relaxed and let Josh Beckett finish up a 4-0 shutout of the Angels in Game 1 of that series. Sometimes it’s better to keep things simple like that.

After the game, ex-Twin and current D-Back Augie Ojeda was quoted on mlb.com as saying: “I was surprised. {Zambrano is) usually a guy who goes 120, 125 (pitches). And especially in the playoffs. It was his game. He was pitching great. Six innings, 85 pitches, that’s not bad. He’s usually a guy who throws a lot of pitches. I don’t know what they were thinking there, but it kind of helped us out because he was pitching a great game.”

Piniella said:  “I’m bringing back a pitcher on three days’ rest on Sunday, and I took a shot with my bullpen. It didn’t work today. They’ve done it all year, and I’ve got confidence in them, period, end of story.”

Good try, Lou.

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