July 4, 2005

G81: Rangers 6, Red Sox 5

Foulke had nothing -- absolutely nothing -- and he knew it.

Terry Francona played it right pretty much all night, though he did have some luck. He stayed with Wade Miller through a horrific first inning (and a fairly crappy third), squeezing 121 pitches out of him in six innings. Jeremi Gonzalez came in and got two men out in the seventh, then John Halama got the third. On the offensive side, Manny Ramirez's bomb to dead center in the top of the eighth gave the Sox a 5-3 lead. Mike Timlin gave one run back in the eighth, before Alan Embree (with the tying run on third) shut the door.

In the ninth, Francona pulled Embree and went with Keith Foulke. Because he's the "closer" -- that's what you do. However, Francona did have Mike Myers warming up as Foulke began the inning. If Foulke got into trouble, would Tito actually pull him and have Myers face (perhaps) Hank Blalock, the inning's fourth hitter?

Foulke had nothing on his pitches, and he was throwing them right over the plate. He got Dave Dellucci to foul out to third, but then gave up a triple to Michael Young and a double to Mark Teixeira. (I wish Jay Payton (instead of Trot Nixon) had been playing right field in the ninth. He might have been able to catch Teixeira's double.) Tie game, winning run on second.

Myers for Blalock? Nope. (So why did Tito have him warming -- just for show?) I wish he had brought him in. I have a hunch he wanted to, but may have not wanted to get second-guessed for removing his closer, no matter how badly he had pitched.

Blalock (0-for-11 against Foulke) walked on a full count. Was Foulke pitching around him, hoping to set up a DP with the free-swinging Alfonso Soriano up next? I have no idea, but the idea of BBI-ing Blalock did occur to me.

Soriano fell behind 0-and-2 before Foulke hit him in the left shoulder blade. That loaded the bases and pushed the winning run to third. Foulke then left a BP fastball out over the plate and Kevin Mench pounded it to left to win the game.

Foulke's body language after Young's triple -- and continuing throughout the inning -- practically screamed no confidence. He knew he had nothing and he knew he was going to blow the game. Let's get this over with.

Something has to do done. And I think something will be done. Tonight has to be the last straw.

Timlin is the logical man to close, but he hasn't exactly been lights out either (though he has been better when starting an inning). Gonzalez looked sharp and could be used to set-up. There has been talk of Arroyo moving into the closer's spot when Schilling returns, but it's hard to gauge how much the front office is talking about it. Those are the in-house possibilities. There are also potential trades, etc.

Honestly, I have no answer. I'd switch Foulke and Timlin right now, maybe also try Gonzalez in Timlin's old spot. But whatever happens, until Foulke gets his stuff together -- whether through pitching in lower-leverage situations or taking a stint on the DL (knee trouble?) -- he cannot be allowed to throw any more games away. And with his confidence at what must be an all-time low, that is almost assured if Francona keeps him in his present spot.

And so to bed.


Game Goat said...

In all fairness, let's look at what Foulke has done...he's blown 4 saves and given us Sox fans ulcers the size of the harbor.

To put it in perspective...

Francisco Cordero has blown 4.
Octavio Dotel has blown 4.
Danys Baez has blown 6!

No AL closer has been perfect this season, with most blowing 1 or 2 thus far in the season.

Foulke is tied for 8th in the AL for save opportunities with 19.

Foulke has pitched more innings than most other closers in the AL.

Foulke's problems are that he has given up 46 hits, 27 runs (all earned), 8 home runs and his ERA is, comparatively, through the roof.

Someone should tell him that the Faithful will stop flipping birds... er... burgers when he stops serving up meatballs.

YazTex said...

G81 Post Mortem from Arlington, TX.
I was at last night’s game, 8 rows up just to the left of the Sox dugout. From that vantage point, I can tell you that everything you wrote after last night’s game was true about Keith (What the) Foulke.

As he came in from the bullpen for the bottom of the 9th, Foulke walked slowly toward the infield with a decided slump in what have become increasingly narrow shoulders. Then, when he was approximately half-way between the warning track and the infield, he suddenly started jogging toward the mound, as if this was something to be expected of a top-notch, balls-out closer. However, he did so with all the enthusiasm and purpose that one would normally associate a man heading to his dentist for a root canal.

I feared the worst, and it soon came to pass. YHe had nothing on his pitches – nothing – and the ball was jumping off the bats of the Rangers as they pounded away. Compared to last year’s dominating performance, he pitches every bit like the beaten man he has become.

He slunk off the field after the walk-off rocket by Mench (another of July 4th quality), seemingly resigned to the fact that this is what his life has become as the millstone around this team's neck.
After watching the Sox gut out what would have been one of the most character-building wins of the year (featured by an incredible sky rocket of a bomb from Manny), he pissed it all away.

There needs to be another answer, but I’m afraid Tito will continue to throw Foulke out there in the belief that this is akin to a kink in a golf swing that a weekend duffer can somehow work out on the driving range. The guy’s presence on the mound never conjured up images up Tom Gordon, Jeff Reardon, or even D-Lowe back in the (bullpen) day, but he’s utterly lost.

The hitters, as I saw up close and personal last evening, stride to the plate with all the swagger and confidence of a group heading to BP, with results that increasingly resemble their pre-game hacks.

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. If so, this would suggest that Tito may be close to having himself committed to a mental institution.

Something has to change, whether it's of Tito's choice (reswizzle roles), Theo's choice (trade for a new closer), or both.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could share GGs caution. First, the fact that Foulke has only blown four saves, officially, is a better indication of how silly the 'save' statistic actually is. His ERA is a much better indicator of his performance. But more important than any number is the amazingly obvious fact that anyone can see with the naked eye that he has nothing. No movement, no command, and no velocity nor disparity in speeds. Also, even when hitters make outs they rarely look bad doing so. Even when hitters swing and miss it usually looks like it is because they are coming out of their shoes trying to pound the ball 900 feet -- and I am not talking about guys in front of the change-up. It does not take a professional scout to figure out that this is really, really bad.

redsock said...

Re saves and blown saves:

Foulke could enter the game with a 3-run lead, allow 2 runs and strand the tying run at third and still not "blow" a save.

In fact, he probably has done that this year.