Thursday, April 17, 2014

System Failure

Season: 10-4; Home Stand: 0-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

The Tampa Bay Rays lost two games yesterday, one up in Baltimore and the other in Durham.

I was unable to attend the game last night and only caught the last few innings on the radio when I heard something I am at a loss to explain adequately. How is it that a position player is sent to the mound in a tie game? Neither of the Bulls broadcasters, who have between them witnessed or played in thousands of baseball games, had ever seen it before. In a blowout, sure. In fact, Scott Pose, last night’s color commentator mentioned his experiences as a position player pitching in the minor leagues (AAA, see here). So how did it happen that catcher Mayo Acosta, who had never pitched a game of professional baseball ended up on the mound?

It sure sounded like the decision was made much earlier than Acosta’s appearance in the 8th, because Montoyo’s quote below (from the Herald-Sun) implies that he made up his mind when the Bulls were down 6-4 and before they came back in the 6th and 7th to tie the game.
“There’s no excuse, but we just were running out of pitching,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “The team still battled back, knowing that Acosta was going to go in the eighth.”
But I’d say that the real reason goes back to last Monday when Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi was feeling bad and went back to his Baltimore hotel. The Rays apparently told Montoyo to take starting pitcher Enny Romero out of the rotation. The Bulls went with a pitch by committee approach that night and last night the ripple effect caught up with them.

Of course, if starter Mike Montgomery hadn’t given up 5 runs (with 5 BBs) and new guy Doug Mathis’ first appearance had not been such a disaster (5 more BBs and another run), then Acosta would never have been on the mound in the first place. It was the Bulls worst pitching performance of the year even before Acosta came in the game.

Credit the Bulls for not giving up. That’s what makes the outcome for a Bulls fan so frustrating. It really sounded as if they had a chance until the 8th.

A short memory is a blessing in baseball. So today is another day. But there are system issues afoot for the Tampa Bay Rays. Distressed that a fine young man like Mr. Acosta gets thrown to the wolves like that. It could not have been fun. Maybe next time.

Note: In the original posting, the line score had the wrong date on it. Game was April 16, not April 15.


  1. At the beginning of the game the announcers indicated that there were 3 arms available in the pen (Mathis, Riefenhauser and someone else). While this was a system failure, it could have actually worked out if Montgomery didn't throw 76 pitches in 2.1 (only half for strikes). He was on a 105 pitch limit, and after the HR there was no real reason to keep him out there as he wasn't even close.

  2. Good point. Montgomery's Pitches Per Out (a quirky stat I track) was an awful 10.86 for the game (he's a not very good 6.94 on the year). So it could have worked out. But if there hadn't been that Sandoval-led committee game on Monday it would have been better. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to rant about the Rays. Gotta do that from time to time.