Jeff Banister is a lucky man.
He committed the cardinal sin of taking out his starter when he was still dominating, and paid the price for it. Lucky for him, his team bailed him out in extra innings.
Managing a pitching staff game by game used to be considered the most difficult task for a major league manager. But that was years ago, when you had to know when to pull the levers, when to turn the knobs, when to add some oil, when to rev it up, when to flip the switches.
Now, a major league manager throws his starter out there, counts to a hundred, when he gets to a hundred pitches, he goes with his seventh-inning guy in the seventh inning, then his eighth inning guy in the eighth, then his closer in the ninth.
Simple as that.
(And if you were Ron Washington, you made up your lineup in April and it was set for the year.)
Jeff Banister gave in to conventional thinking yesterday. I won’t call it conventional wisdom, because there’s nothing wise about it. (Especially when you don’t have a seventh-inning guy or an eighth-inning guy or much of a closer.)
With Nick Martinez sailing, scattering seven hits through six innings, but being crafty enough to not allow any runs again, something happened.
His pitch count neared a hundred. OMG!!! A hundred!!! Panic ensued. The commissioner’s office was alerted. The Players Association filed a grievance. 94 pitches? That’ s almost 100!!! There are labor laws in this country, you know.
It was time to take out a guy with an 0.35 ERA.
His seventh inning guy gave up two to tie it at two.
His eighth inning guy gave up one to put the Angles ahead 3-2.
The Rangers tied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out rally capped off by an RBI from Mitch Moreland, who, along with Prince Fielder, has been one of the few bright spots on offense so far this season. It came off Angels closer for the day, Joe Smith. You may remember Joe Smith. He is the guy who, while with Cleveland, had cops come to his door and confiscate a bag of weed that was sent to his house in his dog’s name.
No wonder he blew the save. Imagine how difficult it must be to pitch knowing your dog is a pot head. What a burden to have to carry around with you to the mound.
Once the game was tied, and Jeff Banister was let off the hook for his boneheadedness, the Rangers won it with two runs in the top of the eleventh that they desperate tried giving back in the bottom of the eleventh.
When it was said and done, the Rangers limped out of Anaheim having won one out of three.
I will take the L of lucky over the L of losing any day.