Skipper speaks out
Because it was a topic of discussion in the press box last night, as well as among fans last night and today, we had to ask TLR about the decision to leave Marquis in to take a beating last night. Clearly, he was expecting the subject to be broached, and he gave a lengthy, thoughtful answer during the pregame briefing with reporters. Rather than chopping it up, I felt hte best way to handle it was to run it in its entirety. The exchange took a full five minutes. It began with me asking whether it’s a tough thing for him to have to put a guy through that.
"Well, I mean, if you just take one game at a time, when aguy is struggling, you’d like to get him out. But if you can remember, there’s
at least two, maybe three other games where Jason gave up runs early and hung
around to the sixth, maybe the seventh inning, and the last two or three
innings, he didn’t give up anything. So it isn’t like he hadn’t struggled
before, and it isn’t like it hasn’t been good for him. Hanging in there,
pitching through it, maybe he discovered something. But there’s no doubt that
the day a guy is getting beat up, you wish you could do something else.
"I listened, only because of the place that I went, they
had the FOX (Midwest) thing and somebody called in and asked, and the guy was
explaining — and I told the guy to change this freaking channel — the guy was
saying that I was trying to make a point to Jason.
"When I see him, I’m going to make sure I talk to him. The
point I made was that he started the first game of the second half, right? And
when he struggled, he still got the ball. Those are the points that you make.
We’ve got confidence in you. It’s just, he’s been the guy twice who has
followed the game to where we were really vulnerable. And this is something I
should have, I thought about this later when I came in, and I told Joe to tell
Derrick to get it in the article, that circumstance, for any club, like us, if
you count it, it probably happens six, eight, 10, 12 times a year. Where the pitcher
takes the mound and he knows the bullpen is short and you’re vulnerable as
****. What you hope is that it happens on the road. Because on the road, the
home team is having fun and they don’t give a (flying leap) if you don’t make
changes. You get home, it’s a tough place to give it up like that.
"It’s not routine, because if it happens too often, you
don’t have a very good club. But even on a good club, you have days where your
bullpen is short. I’d say more often than not, when the starting pitcher goes
out there with that burden, it’s usually good for him. And the guy focuses
more, competes better and he gets deeper in the game. It’s just that, the
Chicago game, Jason did exactly what he did yesterday. When he missed, he
missed. And when he threw the ball over for a strike, it had so much of the
"But like I said, which I wish had been repeated, we went
into that game with four innings of relief if we had a chance to win, and three
innings if we were behind. That’s what we had. And it’s not because there’s an
off day Thursday. It’s because of what we’ve gone through, and what we’ve got
today. The off day Thursday is going to give every one a chance to go ‘whew,’
and then we go to 10 in a row. That’s what we had. There wasn’t any way else
around it unless we walk into today’s game with nothing."
(Follow-up question from another reporter: Was it as much a factor of the extra-inning games over the weekend as the rough one from Weaver on Monday?)
"However we got to that point, that’s what we had if you
didn’t want to take a chance on breaking that bullpen. Which I don’t see the sense in.
"The other thing that I look at, if you just take those
two games out, Jason’s ERA is… that’s not his strongest argument going into
his free-agent year. His strongest argument is he’s got his wins, and he’s
taken the ball regularly, and his stuff is good. So these two beatings, what
have they cost him? A point and a half?
"But when it got to be the fifth inning, you think, can he
get through the fifth? I wish he could get us through the sixth. But you could
tell that he was just fried. So it’s very difficult to put a guy through it.
Even guys that I don’t like, and there isn’t anybody that I can remember that I
don’t like that you would want to go through that. And I like Jason."