Delino DeShields makes one of the season’s best catches for the second out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Twins would go on to tie the game, then win it in the ninth.
Less than five minutes after Tom Grieve and Steve Busby bragged on the new bullpen, the bullpen blew the game.
It wasn’t just bragging, either. It was the gushing, fawning-all-over, get-a-room kind of bragging.
“This is the bullpen that is going to take us to the top not just this year, but in the future, as these guys are all signed for next year.”
“Now we have options.”
Anytime a bullpen blows a lead, it is cause for second- and third-guessing the manager.
“Did he take out his starter too early?”
“Did he keep in his reliever too long?”
“Why did he go with that matchup?”
But before we second- or third-guess (admitted, fun, and the entire reason the universe of fandom exists), maybe we should ask the first question.
It’s the very question Grieve and Buzz asked moments before Jake Diekman blew a two-run lead:
How did this guy have a 5.15 ERA and an opponent’s batting average against him of .268 in the National League?
Two minutes later, we learned why.
So, the question isn’t did Banister pull Gallardo too soon or stay with Diekman too long or is he going to burn out Kela again?
The question is:
Exactly how good is this bullpen anyway?
We will find out over the next 50 games.
And we will find out how good the manager is at managing it.
In the Second Guessing camp, here is one move I questioned Banister on last night:
With the arrival of Mike Napoli, he now has three catchers. Really, two and a half. They want to use Napoli only in an emergency situation.
Yet, in the span of one play, Banister burned through all three catchers.
In the top of the ninth, with the game tied, he pinch hit for catchers number one (Gimenez) with catcher number two (Napoli) and then inserted catcher number three (Wilson) into the game in the bottom of the ninth.
I am sure Banister’s irrationale would be that he was trying to untie the game at that moment.
But, the move made no sense for two reasons.
A) Gimenez is by far a better hitter than Napoli, so why pinch hit a much worse guy?
B) What if this game would have gone into extra innings? Now he had no backup catcher.
Against lefties (Gimenez would have been facing Glen Perkins), Gimenez is batting .429 this year, with a slugging percentage of 1.143.
Mike Napoli, by comparison, is hitting .222 with a slugging percentage of .458.
We can second-guess bullpen decisions all we want.
I will start here.