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Orvella throws 58 pitches

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RaysAllTheWay said it best over on Scout.com: "I guess he wanted the rest of the pen well rested for the All-Star game."

That's about the only explanation there can be for Lou Piniella leaving Orvella in there to throw 58 pitches in 3.2 innings. In his minor league career he made 71 appearances for a total of 109 innings. Considering the way he pitched I imagine there weren't many games where he got pulled before getting three outs so we can safely assume that he only pitched 38 or so innings beyond the single inning per appearance. How many of those outings do you think lasted four innings? I can't imagine that any did. I'd be surprised if there were more than two three inning games. Anyway, the point of all that was to show that Orvella has always been a short reliever and is in no way used to pitching for that long; today's game included, his average pitches per appearance in the majors so far is only 26, less than half what he threw today.

Why is this such a bad idea? Well, for one thing it's abusing his arm. I'm not as worried about pitch counts as some but there are reasonable limits to what pitchers should be asked to do and today went well beyond that. This kind of thing can lead to injury. Will it this time? No, probably not, but if Lou thought it was a good idea once there's the chance that he might decide to do it again. Besides, why would you risk it? This is a last place team about to get three days off to rest the bullpen, the last thing you should consider doing for any reason is taking unnecessary risks with young pitchers!

The other part was rather obvious in the 7th inning when he went from dominant to giving up three runs. As noted above, Orvella has always been a short reliever; if he's used to only throwing a couple innings at a time then it should be expected that having him do more is likely to result in reduced effectiveness. Let's look at the results of each inning, as well as the pitcher breakdown of each batter.

3rd

Flyout (1 S, 0 B)

1 total pitch (1 strike)

4th

Groundout (3 S, 2 B)
Groundout (1 S, 0 B)
Groundout (1 S, 1 B)

9 total pitches (6 strikes, 3 balls)

5th

Strikeout (3 S, 0 B)
Flyout (1 S, 0 B)
Flyout (5 S, 1 B)

19 total pitches (15 strikes, 4 balls)

6th

Strikeout (7 S, 1 B)
Strikeout (3 S, 0 B)
Double (3 S, 0 B)
Strikeout (3 S, 0 B)

36 total pitches (31 strikes, 5 balls)

7th

Strikeout (3 S, 0 B)
Single (1 S, 0 B)
Walk (5 S, 4 B)
Double (2 S, 0 B)
Single (4 S, 3 B)

58 total pitches (46 strikes, 12 balls)

One of these innings is not like the others...

Orvella would have been best served getting pulled after the sixth, working 3.1 innings and throwing a little under 40 pitches. Sure he was pitching great but he was reaching inning and pitch count territory he wasn't accustomed to. I can understand leaving him in though after he struck out the side, and he did strike out the first batter of the next inning. The bullpen should have been up though because of how far he had gone already. Next he gave up a single, no big deal but often when a pitcher is reaching his upper workload limits like that you pull him once he allows a baserunner. Everything was ok though until the next batter.

He walked him. Walks happen but this wasn't a normal walk. Before that plate appearance Orvella had thrown 40 pitches, all but 5! within the strike zone. He was absolutely pounding the strike zone but then he threw four out of it to a single batter. Shouldn't this have set off huge neon warning signs in the dugout that he was tiring? Considering that he was closing in on four innings and was at almost 50 pitches shouldn't there have been somebody ready in the bullpen to come in at a sign of trouble like this?

There wasn't though and he gave up two consecutive hits, allowing two runs to score and setting things up for the third after Carter came in. Sure, it could be coincidence, but it looks an awful lot like he starting to tire and wasn't fooling the hitters as well.

Am I going overboard in criticizing a single decision like this? Possibly, but judging by the responses from fans elsewhere I'm far from alone in being seriously pissed off about this. Not only did this partly ruin what was by far Orvella's best major league game, the first one where he looked like the dominating strike thrower from the minors, it exposed him to completely unnecessary risk to his pitching arm.