I'm much too lazy to research them all, but I've seen him sacrifice as early as the third inning, and I've seen him sacrifice with hitters like Ray Durham and now, Todd Linden.
Let me qualify. I'm not totally against the sacrifice:
- With a poor hitting pitcher.
- When you're down by one run in the 9th facing a dominant closer with no outs.
- When you're in the 9th and you're up by four runs and trying to put the game out of reach.
The last two, for me, are dependant upon the hitter at the plate -- those are fine with a poor, even non-pitcher hitter at the plate. But with anybody who's any good or has any power, throw those out of the window.
Alou had Linden sacrifice last night with no outs in the 7th inning, and the Giants down by a run. Let's review my stipulations and compare them with the aforementioned situation to see if I am justified in my irritation:
- Linden is not a poor hitting pitcher.
- They were down by one run, but it wasn't the 9th and they weren't facing anyone dominant (having a dominant game, yes, but that's another point for later)
- The Giants weren't up on the Rockies.
So, yes, I'm irritated. Now, to qualify further, Linden had looked terrible against Rockies starter Byung-Hyun Kim in his first two at-bats, so there was an added reason why Felipe used the sacrifice in that situation. Felipe also thought, obviously, that runs would be a premium tonight against Kim, as he'd only allowed one run against the Giants to that point. He wanted to put the Giants in position to tie the game, thus allowing them to have a better chance to win. Only problems are:
- Sacrificing a man to 2nd base (as Linden was doing) is much, much worse than to 3rd. You still are very likely to need a hit to drive the run home, and you would need the right kind of hit -- hard hit singles right at an outfielder might not get it done, and an infield single won't get it done. The Giants were hardly getting any hits off of Kim thus far -- why would they get an extra one just because Feliz was at 2nd? Also, Feliz doesn't run particularly well.
- Linden is a power hitter. Sure, putting Feliz in scoring position means he's in better position to score the tying run. But Linden is capable of hitting a double or a home run, the first of which could probably tie the game on its own, the 2nd of which could put the Giants in the lead. The next two batters were Mike Matheny and Deivi Cruz, neither of whom is a hit-machine. Sacrificing Linden takes away this possibility, and gives away an out for free.
- Having Linden sacrifice does absolutely nothing for his development, and could even hurt his confidence. Sure, he looked bad in his first two at-bats, but well, I dunno, is it an impossibility that Linden may have been able to...(gulp)...adjust? Isn't learning to adjust and apply what you've learned after facing a pitcher twice part of the game, and an integral part of a young player's growth?
I just hate the sacrifice in that situation. On top of everything else, it was the 7th inning -- don't you want to take a look at Kim in that inning to see if he might be gassed? Wild? Being a little tired often causes pitchers to hang breaking balls and mislocate fastballs -- were they that down on Linden that they think he wouldn't have been able to do something with a hanging breaking ball or a fastball mistakenly located in the zone?
If that's the case, perhaps he ought to go right back down to Fresno. There's no need for him here, now, because they obviously have no confidence in him at this point -- and how is he going to gain their confidence if they're giving away his opportunities to show something with sacrifice bunts?
And I didn't even get into the fact that selling out to try for an extra win by Felipe may also show that he, and the Giants organization, still believe they are in this pennant race, which would be folly on the highest order. That, as much as anything else, dictates you let Linden swing the bat -- the Giants are out of this race, so one extra opportunity to tie one ballgame isn't really worth it.