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Game 115 Recap: 56-59

I was traveling today, so I didn't get to follow the game, and just like yesterday, it was bad enough to read about after the game. Nice to see that Weeks and Overbay produced a bit; clearly the bats will need to wake up if the Brewers are going to make up any ground against the Reds.

And despite the loss, and Ben Sheets becoming a ridiculous 8-8, he clearly pitched very well, so well that Yost had to make a boneheaded decision.

A little analysis of that decision: in the 7th, with runners on first and third with one out, down by a run, Sheets comes up. He's only thrown 65 pitches, so clearly he can go several more innings. Sheets, of course, is a very poor hitting pitcher; on deck is Chris Magruder, not exactly challenging Carlos Lee for the league lead in RBIs.

Of course everything is different in real life, but I tend to be a quick hook in situations like this in computer baseball simulations. Against a good bullpen that has shut you down for the last two nights, this could be the last opportunity. You can't count on Magruder for much more than a single now and then or possibly a sac fly, and Sheets ought to be considered an automatic out. With seven in the books, you gotta yank him.

Especially with Wes Helms, world's-best pinch-hitter, sitting on the bench just waiting for the opportunity. At the VERY least, give somebody a shot to come in and hit a sac fly to tie the game. By using Sheets to sacrifice (which is incredibly boneheaded, except possible to avoid Ben hitting into a ground-ball double play), Yost threw away the chance to trade an out for a run.

Yes, I can understand that Yost wanted Ben to keep pitching. There's no doubt in my mind that Ben had a better chance to pitch a strong 8th and 9th at that point than did anyone in the bullpen. But that isn't what was at stake here. It doesn't matter how well the 8th and 9th were pitched if the Cardinals stay in the lead. The single most important thing at that juncture is to, at the very least, tie the game. Letting Sheets and Magruder hit in that situation is pure folly.

And yes, I know that hindsight is 20/20, but I think that most savvy Brewers fans knew that this was a bad move as it happened. I'll never know if I would've been throwing stuff at the TV screen, since I wasn't able to watch the game, but I know what decisions I tend to make.

One statistical indication of just how important that at-bat is: the "volatility" of the Sheets AB was 51.8% -- that's the difference between the resulting win probabilities if the batter homers or K's. With 2 outs, the volatility of Magruder's AB was 61.6%. Statisticians consider 30% or greater "crucial" -- situations where you ought to be using your best available reliever. Those numbers are just about as high as they can possibly get in the first 8 innings, and Yost threw away the opportunity.

As if my last few paragraphs weren't depressing enough (I hope because of the content, not the inelegance of my sputtering tirade), here's the win probability chart:

Clearly something must be done about Eckstein and Grudzielanek; yesterday I was thinking about trades to the American League; after today, when once again it wasn't Pujols or Edmonds who beat us, my thoughts have turned to more drastic measures.

Here are the Brewers numbers for the night (Cardinals stats follow the jump):

  • Batting
  • Clark, +1.8%
  • Weeks, -4.7%
  • Overbay, +11.6%
  • Lee, -18.1%
  • Jenkins, -17.0%
  • Hall, +6.8%
  • Miller, -4.3%
  • Hardy, -2.6%
  • Sheets, -16.1%
  • Magruder, -16.8%
  • Helms -0.5%

  • Sheets, +11.4%

Enough about this's time to win a couple of games 9 to 3 or so, and the Reds are just the team to do it to.

Discussion question for the day: what if Clark is out for a few days? Is Magruder a good enough solution for a series or two? What if the injury is serious enough to put him on the DL? Do you call up Krynzel? Give Hall a shot in CF for a few games? Cry and switch your allegiance to a team that has a better shot at the wild card?

(If you picked the last one, you deserve that lightning bolt that's about to strike you.)

Cardinals stats:

  • Batting
  • Eckstein, +21.1%
  • Rodriguez, -7.3%
  • Taguchi, +3.9%
  • Edmonds, -5.5%
  • Luna, -8.7%
  • Nunez, -5.6%
  • Seabol, +0.3%
  • Diaz, +2.1%
  • Suppan, -3.5%
  • Mabry, -8.0%

  • Suppan, +50.4%
  • Reyes, +3.1%
  • King, +2.1%
  • Isringhausen, +4.1%