Hey, sorry for the Buzzfeed title. So lemme just get that silly question out of the way first.
No. Kevin Cash did not “white flag” last night’s eventual 3-0 loss to the Brewers by leaving Ryne Stanek in for a third inning. “White flag” implies that he conceded the loss, which is not a fair read of what happened.
Instead, what he did was act like a winnable game in the middle of a playoff push didn’t matter any more than a game in April. And I’m not sure that’s actually any better.
To recap for the lucky people who missed it: last night against the Brewers, the Rays were thoroughly owned at the plate, but still in the game 1-0 thanks to solid pitching from Alex Cobb.
In the seventh, Ryne Stanek came on. He looked great in retiring the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts. Then he came back out for the eighth, and still looked pretty good, giving up a walk but notching two more Ks.
And then, somehow, our manager thought it was a good idea to send the one inning guy out for a third inning. The inevitable happened, and the Rays would end up losing 3-0.
This decision probably didn’t cost us the game, because, again, the offense put up a big old goose egg. Though honestly, you can’t say that with certainty, as there is no telling how the ninth plays out if the deficit is still just one run. And I can’t imagine how deflating it was for the boys to watch that Perez homer go flying into the seats in the ninth after the Rays loaded the bases and failed to score in their half of the eighth. Baseball is an emotional game too.
A loss is a loss, except when it’s more than that
Yes, it’s true that every win and every loss counts the same in the standings. The loss to the Red Sox on April 16th -- when Austin Pruitt couldn’t keep a one-run eighth inning deficit at one run – isn’t worth fewer losses in the books as the loss to the Brewers last night.
The thing is, as the season progresses, the opportunity to pick up a win can get more magnified, particularly when you are behind in the standings. In that sense these games do matter more. Those previous 57 wins and 53 losses are sunk costs. The Rays had some ground to make up over the last 52 games, which makes treating a winnable one like last night so ambivalently just maddening.
Because now there are only 51 games left, and we still only have those 57 wins.
Here’s Cash trying to make sense of that move. Stanek discussion starts about a minute in.
#Rays Kevin Cash explains why he stuck with Stanek to work the 9th versus #Brewers https://t.co/fnrLaa1PjA— Steve Kinsella (@Steve_Kinsella1) August 6, 2017
Let’s break this down:
- “With the lack of recent workload, we were comfortable with the number of pitches.”
I’ve taken several stabs at typing this without resorting to mindless all-caps BLARGING and profanities. This – this is just a terrible excuse. This is something you say in April or May, when you’re trying to save your pen because the team is looking at a long stretch of games without a day off. It’s not the kind of thing you say when you have day off coming on Monday.
Nomo’s Cash translator: I got greedy. I thought maybe we could squeeze another inning out of Ryne, but really, I was comfortable with losing if he didn’t.
- “He had done some work at Triple A that had allowed him to throw a lot of pitches at one time, so he was prepped for that.”
If Politifact did sports stuff, this would be rated Pant on Fire.
Since his demotion the end of May, Ryne Stanek has worked in 16 games. He has pitched more than one inning in just four of those. The most innings he’d worked was one and two-thirds against Norfolk on July 13th, in an outing that covered just 21 pitches. His high as far as pitch count was 34 in a one inning outing against Charlotte on June 23rd.
Nomo’s Cash translator: I’m a big fat liar trying to cover my ass.
- “I think it’s fair to say that the last eight to ten pitches gassed him a little bit.”
I don’t even know where to start.
First, Stanek was already at 33 pitches entering the ninth, just under his season high. But it’s not just the number of pitches. There is a quality and effort needed of the pitches, and there were some solid mid-leverage pitches in there simply because this was still a one run game. And there was also the third time getting up and down, which Stanek probably hasn’t done since he was starter.
Oh, and it might be good to remember here that Stanek was turned into a reliever because he was not good at starting.
Nomo’s Cash translator: I don’t know anything about pitching.
- “I thought Ryne threw the ball well. He did a nice job.”
Yes he did. It’s just a shame his manager put a shiv to him.
Nomo’s Cash translator: This wasn’t my fault.
- “… but it looked like he got a little tired there at the end.”
Nomo’s Cash translator: No one knew managing a bullpen could be so difficult!
Listen. I think we all know I’ve given Cash plenty of benefit of the doubt. But this was just some straight up managerial malpractice.