Never mind the rant from last time, Cash is a genius.
Starting Austin Pruitt in the Rain
We absolutely love, love, loved this move. With the rain already coming down, and a delay around the 8 o’clock hour very likely, Kevin Cash made the decision to pull Erasmo Ramirez from his scheduled start and go with longman Austin Pruitt. And Pruitt responded, going three shutout inning while surrendering just one hit and one walk, while striking out three.
Now, in the end, the heavy rain (allegedly) never came. Though from watching on television, you could have fooled me. I felt bad for Austin pitching in that slop. Which in a perverse way, is at least a tertiary reason you started Pruitt.
Sure, you don’t want to burn Erasmo after one inning if the game is delayed. But there is also -- and sorry if you’re reading this, Austin Pruitt’s mom -- the fact that Erasmo Ramirez is more important to this team in the long run. And I honestly don’t want ErACEmo out there in the worst of that mess.
We’ll get to how Cash handled the rest of the game in a bit. But starting Pruitt was brilliant, and the baseball gods rewarded him.
Verdict: Well played
Playing the Infield In
This might have flown under your radar, but in the second inning, Pruitt actually got into a bit of trouble. In the worst of the rain, he hit Hyun Soo Kim(‘s jersey) and then gave up a hooked double to Jonathan Schoop to put runners on second and third.
And Cash pulled the infield in. In a 0-0 game. In the second inning. With one out. And the shift on.
This was unusual, to say the least. Usually, teams are willing to concede the run early in a contest. Especially when there isn’t even a force at home. You are really exposing yourself to the possibility of a big inning by being aggressive this early.
Say, it’s almost like Cash read the weather report and was thinking this might be a short game, and that every run might matter.
The baseball gods once again rewarded our skipper’s respect for Mother Nature, and induced J.J. Hardy to tap softly to Tim Beckham. As a result Kim was forced to stay at third on a ball that he ordinarily would have scored on pretty easily.
Verdict: We like the aggressiveness. Also, yay luck dragons!
The Rest of the Pen
Listening to the postgame, it’s hard to get a handle on what the Plan was if the delay never came. Personally, I would have gone directly to Erasmo after pulling Pruitt.
I also think I might have been wrong.
Cash decided to play the matchup game instead, going with Danny Farquhar in the fourth against lefty/righty/lefty row of Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Kim. And this was fine. In fact, the advantage going to Farq here instead of waiting is, if you wait, maybe you never get the hitters you want him to face perfectly lined up at a time when you want to change pitchers. So this was probably better than my move.
The baseball gods didn’t quite agree, preferring to keep Cash a bit humble and allowing an unfortunate knubber by Davis, which meant Farq would not get through the entire inning. So Cash pulled his lefty specialist and went to Jumbo Diaz, which was of course the correct move. Good job there.
Pitching Chase Whitley over Ramirez for three innings starting in the fifth was an interesting choice though.
I mean, it worked out great, so it’s hard to argue. But it could have gone badly just as easily. Ramirez is a superior pitcher, and how does this look if you work your way all the way through the tough part of the game, only to lose it because you never used Erasmo?
After the game, Cash said Ramirez would be used to provide length for Cobb on Wednesday. Given Cobb’s relationship with his once-wicked split-change, this is not a bad Plan B to fall into, and would actually prove preceint.
Additionally, if they had ended up not needing so much Erasmo much on Wednesday, and with Jake Odorizzi is still on schedule to make his start Monday as planned, you’d have Erasmo available out of the bullpen over the weekend. Which would make this spotty pen a whole lot better. So there’s that.
Maybe that’s what Cash was thinking? Or maybe he just “had a feeling”? I dunno.
Verdict: A mixed bag of mostly candy but also an eraser from that weird lady on the corner
April 26: Orioles 5, Rays 4
The Rays lose a winnable game? You don’t say.
Sometimes you rip the wet paper bag; sometimes the wet paper bag rips you.
But really, aside from putting on the “hit a dinger” play more often for Tim Beckham, or drawing up a “maybe don’t throw the ball around the infield” play for freaking everybody, could Cash have done anything to change the outcome for the better?
Alex Cobb was meh in his five innings of work, and departed with the Rays down 3-2. But the not-really-the-plan-but-it-sure-is-convenient to have Erasmo Ramirez available to piggyback worked out in spades, as Ramirez threw four shutout inning and gave the offense time to tie.
Verdict: We’re winning this one!
Moves in the Eighth
It felt like the Rays should have gotten more in the eighth, but it wasn’t from lack of trying on Cash’s part that they didn’t.
Pinch running Peter Bourjos for Derek Norris was smart (if obvious) even if didn’t end up making a difference.
Pinch hitting Rickie Weeks Jr. for Corey Dickerson has debatable upside. Yes, you get the platoon advantage, but Dickerson has been hot, and in an admittedly teeny tiny sample he’s seen lefties well this year. Then again, with his wonky delivery, Donny Hart isn’t a typical lefty.
And yes, you could have waited to pinch hit Weeks for Kiermaier instead, but that just means you get Darren O’Day one batter earlier. If you’re going to pinch hit, this is the right move.
Verdict: “A” for Effort
Alex Colome in a tie game
This is becoming more common (unless you’re Buck Showalter in the playoffs) but it’s still nice to see. It is a logical fallacy to save your closer for some future higher leverage situation that may never come. To quote the Bible: Do not worry about the eleventh inning, and how you will retire Machado should you ever take the lead. Let the eleventh worry about itself.
Verdict: Extend Cash!
Alex Colome for a Second Inning
Why did you use your closer in a tie game??? Now you have to send him back out there for a second inning! Uuuuuuugh...
Verdict: Fire Cash!
There was nothing wrong with riding your best horse to the finish. Colome had only thrown 12 pitches in the tenth; he had some gas in the tank.
You could argue that Cash was slow getting someone up when things started to go sideways, and I think that’s fair. But it’s also understandable. Things don’t typically unfold that slowly. If you’re going to lose, it tends to happen suddenly.
But Cash isn’t paid to anticipate what usually happens. This meltdown was in slow motion, more like the polar ice caps than Charlie Sheen. Cash probably should have had Jumbo Diaz and Danny Farquhar up much earlier. Still, I think he made mostly the right call in leaving Colome in as long as he did. I want my best pitcher in the biggest situations. And it makes even more sense with an off day on Thursday.
As far as Danny Farquhar goes: Maybe you get Farq in there a batter earlier to face lefty Ryan Flaherty before the bases got juiced again. But the score was already tied by then, it would have just resulted in him getting out of the jam and us losing in the 15th with Ryan Garton on the mound. Did you really want that?
Verdict: Losing sucks