Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Valentine became the focal point of the loss after leaving his wilting starter, Daniel Bard, in for too long. Bard walked in the run in the seventh inning.
And by the time Valentine returned to the dugout after the too-late hook, he heard a loud and lusty rain of boos from most of the 38,018 sweating in their seats.
“They felt what I thought — I should have taken him out earlier,” Valentine said. “They’re good fans. They know what’s going on.”
Valentine thought Bard deserved to finish his otherwise standout job from the previous six innings. He had walked four batters and hit another, but allowed only three hits and kept the Rays from advancing a runner beyond second base. Bard’s pitch count was only at 73 when the seventh inning started, and he retired the first two batters on just five pitches before No. 9 hitter Sean Rodriguez stepped into the batter’s box for the Rays.
I actually think it was OK to leave Bard in for those last two hitters for a three reasons:
1. He was pitching really well through the last three innings. His pitch count was relatively low (in the low 90s after the first two batters of the second). At the time, there really wasn't a compelling reason to. It's only hindsight that informs the decision.
2. The options weren't exactly stellar. Matt Albers and Justin Thomas were warm. Do you want to bring Thomas in to face Pena with two outs and two on in a close game? And then immediately take him out for Albers to face Longoria? Or would you rather wait for Bard to allow Pena to get on and then bring in Albers with two outs and the bases loaded in a close game against Evan Longoria, only one of the best three or four players in the AL. No thanks.
3. He's gotta learn to fight through these situations. If he wants to become a starter, he needs to find that extra gear, dig deep -- whatever cliche you want to lose. He needs to be able to finish innings, to get out of sticky situations. Maybe it didn't work out this time, but it will be valuable experience for later on.
Note that once again, Bobby V comes out as being overwhelmed by his bullpen decisions and making the wrong call. This makes -- to my count -- three times he's publicly addressed his inability to use the bullpen correclty. Three times in 10 games. Bobby V really needs to learn how to stop talking. That's a lot of bullpen blunders, if he really believes he was wrong. Maybe he's just trying to take the heat off his players, but if you do it too much you look incompetent. Bobby V is looking a little overwhelmed by his position right now.
On page 2, Terry Francona weighs in on the Bobby V/Youk saga.