Um Ron, Not Sure If You Noticed But That Rookie Pitcher You Shouldn't Have Put In Is Getting Shelled
I don't know a ton about managing a baseball team and I know even less about Ron Washington, but one thing I do know is that you don't throw a rookie into a one run game at Yankee Stadium to face the heart of the order when he's never thrown a pitch in the majors. What I learned tonight about Ron Washington is that he did not know that.
With the Rangers in front of the Yanks 7-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh, a mere 9 outs from securing a sweep of the Yanks on the road, and the 3-4-5 batters coming up, Rangers manager Ron Washington had a decision to make. With Josh Rupe likely out (he'd thrown 2 innings the previous night), does he throw Frank Francisco who'd thrown a scoreless inning the previous night but would've been pitching on his third straight day? Does he throw Easy Ed Guardado, who is more of a setup man than middle reliever or does he go to Jamey Wright, the veteran journeyman reliever. The decision was made a little more difficult because closer CJ Wilson was likely unavailable after having thrown in the previous three consecutive games. So Guardado was the likely replacement (assuming they needed to close). A pickle indeed but one that managers face daily. And with all these options available to Ron, he instead chose option Z: rookie pitcher Warner Madrigal.
You see the thing about Madrigal is not that he's any worse talentwise than any of the above listed options, it's that he'd never thrown a pitch in the major leagues before this moment. So rather than ease him into MLB service, Ron throws him into the fire choosing him over his seasoned veteran alternatives. You can probably guess what happened. Well it went something like this: Abreu - doubled, A-Rod walked, Giambi doubled (scoring Abreu & A-Rod), Posada doubled (scoring Giambi), and then Cano singled leaving 1st and 3rd with none out. Now what is amazing about this is not that Madrigal had an infinite ERA at this point and had just blown his first major league ballgame, though it will certainly be quite a memory for young Warner, but at this point in the game Ron Washington DID NOT HAVE ANYONE WARMING UP YET! Fortunately for Warner, he got an out when Betemit grounded out (Posada scored on the play). But after bouncing a wild pitch to previously hitless rookie Brett Gardner, it seemed Ron Washington had had enough and there was action in the bullpen. A pitch later and Gardner had his first hit (and RBI) and a slow walk to the mound after that, the Warner Madrigal experience had mercifully ended and a very unloose Jamey Wright was rushed into the game. Wright promptly gave up a hit, a walk and a 3 run home run to A-Rod and what once had been a Rangers win was now a Yanks blowout. It may have been the single worst managing job I've ever seen (no apologies to Grady Little who got a bad rap).
I'm not saying Ron Washington and the Rangers could have prevented what happened to them tonight. The Yanks did seem like a team on a mission (a mission to hit terribly pitched balls very long distances) and it is likely that any pitcher thrown into that game would have been in danger. But putting in a rookie to face 3 batters who have combined for more than 1,000 home runs in a one run game at Yankee Stadium may not have been the best call. You live and learn, Ronald. I hope you learned something tonight. I know I did.