Trust me, I am a believer. Buck Showalter, along with Bob Melvin and Robin Ventura are far and away the leading candidates for AL Manager of the Year. Between me and you-it’s a toss-up between Buck and Melvin.
But, if voters cast their votes based on today’s’ bitter 4-3 loss at Yankee Stadium, Showalter might lose more than a few votes. He has been ultra careful doling out extra rest for his starters over the past couple weeks. And make no mistake about it, his plan has worked to perfection.
So, why with a scant two run lead at 3-1 going into the bottom of the 7th elect to allow Wei-Yin Chen to come out for the 7th inning? Surely, like all managers, Buck knows the wisdom of giving your relief pitchers “clean” innings, ones in which they start the inning with a clean slate.
Having muffed once at the correct time to take Chen out, surely he’d bite with once Steve Pearce got a one out hit. But, no Showalter showing unusual petulance kept Chen in to retire Martin, and allow a two-out walk to Jayson Nix.
Okay, Buck was sure to take out Chen now with two on and two out, with the Orioles leading 3-1. But, instead Chen was allowed to face yet another batter, Eduardo Nunez who promptly laid out a line-drive lite, to make it 3-2.
In came Pedro Strop to face a left-handed hitting Ichiro Suzuki who immediately walked to load the bases. Next up was Jeter who worked back from an 0-2 count to coax a game tying RBI walk. That was followed by an error on an odd line-drive one hopper by JJ Hardy, that allowed the game winning run to cross the plate.
In the meantime, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano made very easy work of the Orioles in innings 7,8 and 9.
What was especially perplexing, was the pitcher who should have been up and ready for inning 7, Darren O’Day, who had pitched a “clean” 7th last night, ended up pitching today anyway.
Final score was NY 4, Baltimore 3, and the loss ended a 13 game one run game winning streak. Strop was the losing pitcher, JJ Hardy made a huge error…but this loss is in Showalters’ column.