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St. Joseph Sheehan on Game Two

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  • St. Joseph Sheehan on Game Two

    Plenty of fodder in here, I think.


    Thursday's action in St. Louis, in a nutshell:

    Padres: 10 hits, two walks, three HBPs

    Two runs.

    Cardinals: six hits, five walks, one ROE

    Six runs.

    There's your season, folks. The Padres couldn't have blown more opportunities if they'd been given two kegs of Rohypnol and a guest spot on "Taradise." Here's the middle seven innings of the game:

    Second: Bases loaded, one out, a dinged Mark Mulder goes 2-0 on Ben Johnson. Swinging strike, swinging strike, swinging strike, and then a Pedro Astacio groundball.
    Third: Nothing of note.
    Fourth: Single, no-out double play. Five-pitch inning.
    Fifth: One-out single, double play.
    Sixth: One-out single, double play
    Seventh: Three straight hits to start the inning and cut the lead to 4-1…and then Miguel Olivo grounds into a double play, the team's fourth in four innings.
    Eighth: Bases loaded, two outs, and Mark Sweeney has to bat against a lefty. Five-pitch strikeout.

    This is why performance analysis breaks down when used to predict short series or individual games. Over time, the sacred "little things" wash out, leaving the big things as the best measure of quality. In a game, though, you have to cash in your baserunners. Not doing so doesn't say anything about your human qualities--character, clutch, claptrap like that--but it does mean you're playing poor baseball. At what point does a team that's hitting into double plays every inning take a different approach to the plate, maybe wait a bit for Mulder to get pitches up in the zone, give them a chance to drive the ball? The Padres just kept going after the fastball down, and making two, two, two outs in one.

    Tactically, there wasn't much to talk about, although I do think Bochy's decision to send up Olivo in the seventh for Johnson was a questionable call. Olivo has hit very well as a Padre and against soutpaws, and Johnson hasn't done either. However, Bochy didn't have a surfeit of right-handed bats on the bench, and using one of them to hit for a position player in a situation that wasn't game-critical may have been overmanaging. In an inning where the Padres had begun driving the ball, Olivo pulled the plug with a double-play grounder, then wasn't available an inning later when Bochy needed his righty bat. The former isn't something you can blame Bochy for, but the latter may be. The difference between Johnson and Olivo against Mulder in the seventh is certainly less than the difference between Olivo and Sweeney against Randy Flores in the eighth.

    It's possible that having a Weaveresque platoon of John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke on the bench wouldn't have saved the Padres, because the Cardinals played a terrific game of baseball. As I say, the "little things" are overrated by a factor of 100, but you look at the Cards' win yesterday and you see four double plays turned, a successful squeeze play, a pretty hit-and-run executed by the game's best hitter, two key strikeouts with the bases loaded…they were just the better team. I'm no fan of Mark Mulder, but his core skill is getting those DPs, and he did that yesterday.

    Just because the little things are overrated doesn't mean being good at them is worthless. It just means that you have to be good at the big things as well. The Cardinals are good at both.

  • #2
    Basically he's saying that if the Padres hadn't screwed up so much they should have beaten the Cardinals? How does he explain all the hits/runs and the double plays that the Cardinals had? Or is that somehow a result of the Padres screwing up too?

    Yes, of course, I know what it is. The "better" ball teams don't make silly mistakes. That might be why the Cardinals won.
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    • #3
      More from Prospectus (not Sheehan, though):

      San Diego has been one of the worst teams in baseball versus left-handed pitching all season, and that figured to be a critical issue yesterday afternoon:

      Padres vs. LHP, 2005

               HR     R    AVG    OBP    SLG    ISO
      Totals   28   164   .254   .336   .374   .120
      Rank     29    27     27     12     29     30

      Given these numbers, it's not hard to imagine the excitement of Padres fans as they watched their team pile up eight hits on Mark Mulder. Unfortunately for Friar fanatics, the hits were not converted into runs. This is nothing new for the Padres. Looking at their team RBI per Runner Rate, we can see the Padres are far from the most efficient unit in the game:

      2005 Playoff Teams, ranked by RBI per Runner Rate

      Rnk    Tm    Runners    Rate
       1    ANA       3655   .1570
       5    CHA       3460   .1483
       6    SLN       3960   .1475
       7    BOS       4524   .1468
      11    ATL       3865   .1423
      14    NYA       4382   .1410
      26    SDN       3978   .1322
      28    HOU       3771   .1307
      It's here we can see a big difference between St. Louis and San Diego. They essentially had the same number of runners reach base this year, but the Cardinals drove in a higher percentage. This is something that has been in evidence over the first two games, and it is a problem that will eventually bury the Padres in this series.
      To add insult to injury, by stacking the starting lineup with righties, they ran out of righty bats during the pivotal eighth-inning rally, and fell victim to lefty reliever Randy Flores, who retired pinch-hiter Mark Sweeney to end the Pads' last hope.

      What's with all those double plays? Another reason the Pads have been unable to drive home runs in these first two games has been the number of double plays turned by St. Louis. Is San Diego really this bad with the stick? Not hardly. San Diego actually did a good job of avoiding hitting into the double play this season, ranking 20th in double play rate for hitters. No, the dominant force here is the St. Louis pitching staff and defense, which is far and away the best team at forcing the double play:

      Double Play Rate for Pitchers by Team, 2005

      Rnk   Team    DP_Opps    DP     DP%   NETDP
      1     SLN        1109   194   .1749   50.12
      2     PIT        1272   191   .1501   25.98
      3     FLA        1191   177   .1486   22.49

      Four Cardinals starters, including your Game One and Two starters, Chris Carpenter and Mulder, rank in the top 30 overall for NET DP.

      Walk. Error. Sac bunt. Fielder's choice. Walk. Walk. This is how the Cardinals scored the first two runs of Game Two. The Padres came into these middle games needing to play near flawless baseball if they were going to compete, especially now that they cannot bank on another Jake Peavy start. Unfortunately, the Pads were not able to be efficient. It's like eating an ice cream cone. It sounds really easy to do, but if the ice cream starts melting or the cone starts leaking, suddenly you're licking one side, then you're licking the other, and before you know it you've got ice cream all over your hand. Today, the Pads ended up with ice cream on their hands, and they simply did not have enough napkins around to clean up the mess. [/b][/quote]


      • #4
        To beat the Birds, the Padres need to play basically flawless baseball.

        I don't think we're in any danger of that happening.


        • #5
          It's like eating an ice cream cone. It sounds really easy to do, but if the ice cream starts melting or the cone starts leaking, suddenly you're licking one side, then you're licking the other, and before you know it you've got ice cream all over your hand. Today, the Pads ended up with ice cream on their hands, and they simply did not have enough napkins around to clean up the mess. [/b][/quote]

          Meanwhile, the Cards managed to skillfullly manipulate their waffle cones like masters, successfully navigating the perilous swirl of flavors mixed by the Padres, and walked away with clean and non-sticky hands, winners all.

          Baseball makes me hungry.
          I'm always right.


          • #6
            no the Cardinals have Dippin Dots. No mess at all and it makes people point and say "what is that and why can't it melt?"
            Sometimes elections have positive consequences!


            • #7
              That's basically what AP told Fick at first base. "Feed me my cone, and then yours."