Martin Perez had one of the most remarkable pitching performances of the year yesterday, and it almost went up in smoke when his manager pulled him with one out in the ninth inning for a litany of lesser Rangers bullpen pitchers who valiantly tried to give his win away.
I would like to apologize to Tanner Scheppers. I blamed him for starting the wildfire that torched Saturday night’s game.
I was upset at him for coming into the game on Saturday night and imploding once again. I was angry that he had an ERA of 12.33 his past ten games, and yet once again he was sent out there in a critical situation to blow another save.
But Tanner Scheppers did not put himself in that game. Or any game. He didn’t call into the dugout from the bullpen and say, “I am going in.” He didn’t name himself the eighth inning guy.
Scheppers may have fanned the flames. But he did not light the fire. His manager did that.
Jeff Banister is the culprit.
Jeff Banister is the arsonist, the one who plays with fire.
Bannister routinely pinch runs Leonys Martin for Prince Fielder in close games when it’s obvious Fielder will get another at bat that will then go to Martin in a critical situation.
Banister sits out Josh Hamilton for games at a time when Hamilton is desperately trying to develop a rhythm.
Banister assembles lineups every night with absolutely no rhyme or reason. (Here is your lineup, Jeff: DeShields CF, Odor 2B, Fielder DH, Beltre 3B, Moreland 1B, Hamilton LF, Choo RF, Andrus SS, Catcher. Stick with it. Deviate only in rare circumstances. You’re welcome.)
Banister approaches games against the toughest pitchers by throwing out his weakest lineups.
Banister makes defensive substitutions with the wrong players.
Banister feels he is only earning his money as a manager by over-managing.
And, yesterday, after the debacle of the night before with Scheppers, Banister pulled out his box of matches and can of lighter fluid once again.
He took out Martin Perez with one out in the ninth after he was nearly unhittable, brilliant in fact, as he was bearing down on a much deserved shutout, and turned the game over to the worst bullpen in the major leagues, one that came within an inch of Hunter Pence’s foot beating Rougned Odor’s throw to first from blowing yet another lead.
This one would have been crushing. Not only would it have been two in a row, but it would have wiped out one of the best pitching performances by a Ranger of all time.
Then, in the post-game interview, fully aware his boneheadedness nearly backfired but trying to concoct an alibi, he had the audacity to question the intelligence of Rangers fans by making up a bogus rationale on the spot about heeding to a pre-determined pitch count for Martin Perez, unaware that the pitch counts of Perez’s previous two games since coming back from Tommy John surgery were higher and are readily available online and retrievable in about six seconds to disprove the story he had just made up.
And just like that, the last remnants of Jeff Banister’s credibility went up in smoke.
You have to hand it to Banister, though. In just 105 games, he has made Ron Washington look like Bruce Bochy.
And that is nearly an impossible accomplishment.