Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Piniella mishandles Zambrano in Game 1

Well, it's the game that the Diamondbacks had the best chance of winning. It's the game that Arizona was heavily favored in. Still, it's a painful loss.

The team didn't play well. Derrek Lee didn't hustle after a third strike got passed Snyder and Carlos Marmol made some pretty bad pitches. We only scratched out four hits while going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving nine on base. We had the leadoff man on second base before the first out in both the third and fourth innings but failed to score and the team wasn't being selective with their pitches in the eighth and ninth innings, despite taking the obligatory first strike. Lou's not completely off the hook for the loss, though.

After an error put Ryan Theriot on second base to lead off the fourth inning, Piniella decided to let Zambrano swing away. We know he was hitting left-handed, but he's still a pitcher. Zambrano needed to bunt to move Theriot over so that Soriano could tie the game with as little as a productive out.

Then, in the sixth inning, after Theriot's infield single tied the game, Zambrano was allowed to hit for himself. The bases were loaded and two were out, but Piniella didn't take down Zambrano for Ward. What upsets me the most about that move is that Lou only stuck with Zambrano for one more inning. If he wanted to try to get 7 innings out of Zambrano, that's a different story, but why would you turn the ball over the Marmol and Howry in the 7th and 8th innings in a tie ballgame when you're on the road?

Zambrano is a good hitting pitcher, but he's just that: a pitcher! Lou had a hard time seeing through that and again bought into the fans' impulse moves. Managers are paid the big bucks because they know what's right, instead of succumbing to the temptation of the general public, but today, Piniella made two crucial mistakes and is partially responsible for the early hole.

Letting Zambrano throw 8 innings and 101 pitches was okay in the regular season, but not the postseason? Isn't the postseason the time you pull out all of the stops?

Lilly hopes to rebound: Ted Lilly was absolutely phenomenal when pitching after a Cubs' loss this season. However, the Diamondbacks have absolutely crushed left-handed pitching, while we have to take on southpaw Doug Davis. The Cubs were 19-24 on the year against lefties, while the Diamondbacks posted a 28-17 mark when the opposing pitcher is left-handed. With Lilly and Hill going in games 2 and 3, this could mean big trouble.

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