Posted by disappointmentzone on 9 August 2006
Over the last two seasons this is the Indians’ record in one-run games. Last year the Indians set a record for most losses by one run since divisional play began. This season the Indians are still losing more than a fair amount of close games (for a rough analysis of the Indians’ wins and loses through early July click here) and after tonight’s 4-5 defeat against the Los Angeles Angels of Our Team Name Makes No Sense passionate rage is coursing through message boards and talk radio call-in lines, manifesting itself in the form of demands to see Eric Wedge fired.
The one run loss tonight is troubling, no doubt, but many people seem equally bothered by Wedge deciding to pinch-hit Todd Hollandsworth for Andy Marte in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a runner on second. The reason Marte is on the 25-man roster so early in the season is because there isn’t much of a season left. If the Indians were in a playoff race Boone would still be starting at third and Marte would still be in Buffalo. But since the Indians have no chance of making the playoffs (well, .00152% chance) Marte is in Cleveland and Boone is on the bench–all so that Marte can gain experience. Benching Marte is the diametrical opposite of that goal.
Of course, there is a slight problem with those who are upset both because Eric Wedge blew another one-run game and because he pinch-hit Hollandsworth for Marte. Marte is not doing well with the bat since his call-up, and was not doing well in the minors in the weeks leading up his call-up; he admits as much with earnest candor. Marte is also a right-handed batter facing a nasty right-handed closer in K-Rod. Whatever Marte’s chances of getting a hit in that situation are, Hollandsworth’s chances are probably better. Hollandsworth isn’t worth much, but he plays the role of pinch-hitter well (he’s quite experienced in this regard) and is only effective anymore against RHP. If the Indians were to win the game it would be at the hands of Hollandsworth, not Marte. Wedge played to win, so he benched Marte.
Fans can either be upset that Marte was denied a valuable experience–crucial at bat late in a close ball game–or be upset that Wedge blew another one-run game, but you’d be hard pressed to convince me that you can simulatiously hold egregious mistake.
[Aside: There is an argument to be made that without Wedge the team would never even be in a position to lose (or win) so many one-run games, that they’d lose by more runs more often. It’s not hard to imagine a lesser manager guiding the team to a record number of three-run defeats, a significant portion of which Wedge is able to turn into one-run defeats solely by managing so well. I suspect most people won’t offer this argument in defense of Wedge, however.]