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Sunday, October 10, 2004
Why did they do that?

Page 2 staff

We're not here to analyze, scout, predict, project or proclaim Derek Jeter a "winner." We're here to Second Guess. Hey, isn't that half the fun of baseball's postseason?

Saturday, October 9
Ten Things to Second Guess about Yankees-Twins, Game 4:

(We're not saying we're necessarily right, we're just saying ...)

If you're going to start Johan Santana on three days' rest, and he's allowed just one run through five innings, and thrown just 87 pitches, and had just struck out Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui in the fifth, that maybe you should go at least one more inning with the majors' best starter, a pitcher with a second half Sandy Koufax would dream of, a pitcher who seemed a good bet to gut out three more outs.

1A. Here's the point behind the risk of starting a guy on three days' rest: Santana pitched just 12 innings in the series, instead of what should have been 15 or 16 innings if he pitched on regular rest. The fewer innings he pitches, the more everybody else pitches. The more everybody else pitches, the more likely the Twins were to lose.

2. All those Yankee-haters who put blind faith in one man. Baseball is not about blind faith in one man. Although Orel Hershiser, circa 1988, came close.

2A. Especially when his manager yanks him after five innings.

3. Removing Grant Balfour. The Australian was throwing 95-mph high heat, 28 pitches, 19 strikes, 6 up, 6 down. The more pitchers you use ...

4. Leaving in Juan Rincon to allow five baserunners. If you're protecting a four-run lead, it's usually not a good idea to let one reliever pitch to the tying run.

5. Rincon's decision on a 2-2 pitch to Ruben Sierra to throw a breaking pitch that a sixth-grader would be ashamed to throw.

6. The Homerdome mystique. Ask Danny Cox. Ask Whitey Herzog. Ask Lonnie Smith. They'll tell you that before George Steinbrenner paid her to move to the Bronx, that Mystique used to live in a condo a few blocks from the Metrodome. Mystique was one mean girl, that's for sure. She would scare the hair off opposing pitchers, force colossal baserunning blunders, even helped Kent Hrbek pull a little lift-and-tag on Ron Gant. The Twins went 8-0 at home during the 1987 and 1991 World Series but have now lost five straight playoff games there.

7. Those who thought Mariano Rivera was vulnerable after blowing just his third postseason save in 33 career chances in Game 2. In baseball, you can't put blind faith in one man, although you sure do want Rivera out there with the game on the line.

8. New York sportswriters who will credit Derek Jeter for winning this game. "Derek Jeter inspired Ruben Sierra to crush that devastating curveball from Juan Rincon over the Hefty bag in right-center with his words of wisdom." ... "Derek Jeter said to Esteban Loaiza, 'Hey, E, I know you've stunk up New York like a 30-day garbage strike since you've been here, but this is the playoffs. Just follow me to victory. And throw strikes." ... "Derek Jeter's advice to Rivera: Throw the cutter."

9. Pat Borders' decision to keep playing in 2004 and not begin his managing career.

10. Terry Francona's decision to yank Curt Schilling with that one-run lead and give the ball to Keith Foulke ... oops, getting ahead of ourselves there.

-- David Schoenfield

Previous editions of Second Guessing
Oct. 8: Angels decide to go with Jarrod Washburn

Oct. 7: Did Bobby Cox play too much Small Ball?

Oct. 6: Ron Gardenhire leaves in Joe Nathan