Sunday, August 12, 2007
COUGH, CHOKE GAG(NE)
Remember when Okajima pitched the 8th inning? Remember when Okajima faced righties and lefties? Has Hideki done something to lose time on the mound? Before Gagne allowed Okajima's runner to score today in Baltimore, his ERA was 0.98. It's been at or around 1.00 all season. He's got 3 wins, 4 saves, 19 holds, and only 2 blown saves. But he was used as a platooned set-up pitcher this afternoon, facing the lefties, then being lifted for Gagne to face the righties.
Gagne's troubles do not seem to be a statistical anomaly, just a bad stretch of games that coincidentally occurred during his first few games with the Sox. His pitches are inconsistent. Some pitches make hitters look like fools, some make him look foolish.
Gagne's been a closer since 2002. He's recorded 2 Holds in his career before coming to Boston. A Hold, by the way, is just like a Save, only the reliever doesn't finish the game. It's a stat for set-up men. Hideki Okajima has 20 Holds this season. Anyway, Gagne has 2 Holds since coming to the Red Sox, which matches his career total up until this point.
Gagne is used to coming to the ballpark knowing when he'll pitch. As a closer, he never knew if he would pitch in any given game, but he knew that if he did pitch, it'd be starting the 9th inning. Now he has no idea when he will pitch. And I think that's messing with him a bit. He's got a different routine now. He can't just sit around and wait for the 9th, he has to be ready to come into the 6th, the 7th, the 8th, and so on. He gets maybe 10 to 15 minutes of warning, at the most, before he goes in.
The new routine (or lack thereof) might not be the cause of Gagne's problems. Nevertheless, there is definitely a problem. This weekend series in Baltimore was a disgrace. The Orioles are a joke team. We had a good lead in every game, and we let it slip away twice. Our so-called "best bullpen in baseball" allowed 10 runs in 5.1 innings this weekend. Our starters allowed a mere 3 runs.
We're only 4 games ahead of New York, with 6 games head-to-head left. New York rolled through Cleveland this weekend, so they're not just beating up on bad teams. We need to start winning games here if we want to make the playoffs. And we need to resume winning games when we have a late lead.
We have a 3 game home series with the Devil Rays. It would be nice to sweep them. It might even be necessary that we sweep them.