There we were, enjoying a 5-1 lead as the page turned on the 7th inning. Luke Hudson had 10 strikeouts, evoking memories of Blake Stein, as many wondered: when was the last time a Royal had ten strikeouts? Buddy Bell even played the "bring him out after the inning starts" card, letting Hudson get an ovation for his 7 IP: 9Hs 1Er 10K line. Life was good, the Royals were beating the Yankees behind the fourth freaky good pitching performance since Run's complete game in Toronto.
Then the Yankees scored 10 runs in the 8th. They had tied the game before the Royals had recorded an out.
For those who like pain, here's the rundown as Jimmy Gobble took the mound:
-Posada homer, (5-3)
-Cano single (Gobble still in game)
-Melky walks (Gobble finally pulled for Dohmann)
-Bernie walks (Sisco replaces Dohmann)
-Damon singles (5-5)
-Jeter strikes out like the true choker he is
-Abreu double (7-5)
-Giambi grounds out
-Arod walks (Burgos replaces Sisco)
-Posada singles (8-5)
-Cano homers (11-5)
-Melky flies out
Thats a smackdown. Here we were, enjoying our plucky little team as they scored runs one at a time, while some total unknown named Luke Hudson danced around 9 hits to hold the mighty Yankees down. Then, as if insulted by Bell's move with Hudson the Yankees said, "here's 10 runs bitch".
Bell's decision to replace Hudson was totally defensible, he'd thrown 113 pitches through 7 innings. Moreover, the Gooble gambit was also a good one: he's been a solid 7th/8th guy all year. Not good, but not horrible.
Where Bell failed was the decision to bring in Dohmann, followed by an equally horrible decision to bring in Sisco. Dohmann's ERA in 2006 was over 6 yesterday, before taking the mound in the 8th. Sisco's ERA was 7.28 before yesterday's game. These guys are bad. With a 5-3 game and two men on for Bernie/Guiel and then the top of the Yankee order Bell sent his 5th (or worse?) best reliever out there. Then, with the bases loaded and no outs, he brought in Sisco, who's battling Dohmann for that 5th best slot.
This is a prime example of how the myth of the closer (a myth totally founded on something Bell hates: a stat) manipulates "good baseball guys" like Bell to ridiculous lengths. The game was in the balance, and while we all hate seeing Burgos and don't quite trust Nelson, the hierarchy of the pen is that those guys are the ace pitchers. Instead, he asked Sisco to get out of the jam, so he could use his best pitchers with no one on base the next inning.
And this wasn't the 6th inning, it wasn't the 7th. It was the 8th. Hell, don't even bring in Nelson if you don't want, but sure as hell bring in Burgos before Sisco.
5-1 to 11-5.
Your team, your town.