Hitting the wall
Starters gassed, bullpens strained ... where's the finish line?Posted: Friday October 25, 2002 3:54 AM
Updated: Friday October 25, 2002 4:35 AM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- It's hard work to be a starter in this World Series. Almost as hard as it is to be a reliever.
The pitchers in the 98th World Series are getting worked over, and as the Series moves back to Southern California this weekend for its conclusion, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: The strongest bullpen may be the deciding factor in this war of attrition between the San Francisco Giants and Anaheim Angels.
"I think we need a day off," said Giants manager Dusty Baker. "My bullpen needs a day off."
The Giants took a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven Series on Thursday with a 16-4 pasting of the Angels, but the game was hard on both teams' pitching staffs. Neither Angels starter Jarrod Washburn nor Giants starter Jason Schmidt lasted more than five innings, meaning both teams had to dig deeply into their already dug-up pens.
The bullpens in this Series have been major factors because the starters have been so ineffective.
• In Game 1, the teams combined to use eight pitchers, four apiece. Neither starter lasted beyond 5 2/3 innings.
• In Game 2, the teams used 11 pitchers (six for the Giants). Neither starter lasted past the second inning.
• In Game 3, eight pitchers were used (five by the Giants) as Livan Hernandez lasted only 3 2/3 innings for San Francisco. Ramon Ortiz went 7 2/3 for Anaheim, the longest start of the Series.
• In Game 4, seven pitchers were rolled out (four by the Giants). Kirk Rueter went six, while Anaheim starter John Lackey went five.
• Thursday night in Game 5, nine pitchers were used, including five by the Giants.
Game 5 may have been a bit of an exception. The Angels fell behind 6-0 by the end of the second, forcing manager Mike Scioscia to rethink his use of his pen. Looking toward the weekend and not wanting to tax his already over-taxed bullpen, Scioscia let Washburn pitch through four innings before spreading out the final five innings among three relievers.
"There was no use to see Francisco [Rodriguez] in that game, no use to see Percy [closer Troy Percival] in that game," Scioscia said. "Even Schoeny [lefty reliever Scott Schoenweis], to a certain extent."
Scioscia hinted that he might have let starter Washburn go even farther into the game. Washburn retired the final six batters he faced and threw only 79 pitches.
But the Angels fought back to within 6-4, forcing Scioscia to try to make a game of it. He put Brendan Donnelly in to start the fifth, then Ben Weber in the sixth. When Weber gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings, Scioscia put up the white flag.
"We thought we had a chance to get back into that game," Scioscia said. "Unfortunately, it went the other way with us."
The Angels even got to the point Thursday when they pulled out some innings from Scot Shields, who has not been used this postseason.
All of it was with an eye toward being as strong as possible for Saturday's Game 6.
"I'm tired. I'm sure if you went around this clubhouse, or the Giants' clubhouse, they'd say they're tired," Washburn said. "You're still expected to do your job."
It's no wonder everyone is tired, especially the bullpens. The Angels' bullpen, in fact, has thrown only 1/3 of an inning less than Anaheim's starters in this Series. The Giants' bullpen has thrown 2/3 of an inning more than the San Francisco starters.
So how tired are these guys?
"This is not a time to take days off," said Giants closer Robb Nen, who is rumored to have a stiff shoulder. "Everybody makes a big deal about being tired, being sore or being stiff.
"The way I look at it, if you can't pitch now, your arm better be falling off and you better not be able to lift it."
The teams have a day off Friday as the Series shifts back to Anaheim. Baker is giving his team the day off -- completely. The Angels have a voluntary workout.
After that, it's back to work for one, maybe two, more games.
After that, the pitchers can rest.