Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash removes pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the sixth inning of game six on Tue Oct 27, 2020 at Globe Life Park in Arlington vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers (AP News photo)
The day the Manager became a Computer
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash will probably be named the Manager of the Year in the American League. These awards are given for the regular season. He managed his ball club to the best record in the American League, 40-20. With a team riddled with injuries during the season, Cash did a very good job. However, he made one inexcusable move in the deciding six-game of this World Series.
It was a do-or-die game for the Rays, as the Dodgers were leading the Series 3 games to 2. Cash sent his best pitcher to the mound, lefty Blake Snell in hope to get more than a few innings from the 2018 Cy Young Award winner. Snell was pitching a great game and after four innings had given-up no runs and two hits, while striking out nine. While the Dodgers were celebrating on the field, this is what Blake Snell said to the media. “I wanted to go the whole game”. And why would he not? He was on, executing pitches, dominating a very dangerous lineup.
Then the six inning happened. Snell gave up a soft single to center to Austin Barnes. Manager Cash immediately came out, bringing his best reliever during the regular season, Nick Anderson, who right away gave up a double to left field to Mookie Betts advancing Barnes to third base, followed by a grounder by Corey Seager to first-baseman Choi who threw to the plate, but was late, Barnes scored, a fielder’s-choice and the Dodgers within just a few minutes had tied the game 1-1.
Anderson then threw a wild pitch and Mookie Betts scored, the Dodgers had their first lead 2-1. Regarding why he took Snell out of the game who only had thrown 73 pitches, Cash said: “I didn’t want him/Snell to see Mookie or Corey for a third time”. With that decision by manager Kevin Cash, the game was lost right there and so the hopes of the Tampa Bay Rays to win their first World Series.
Mookie Betts homered in the eighth inning against righty Pete Fairbanks for the final score of 3-1 and the World Series title to the Dodgers for the first time since their huge upset of the Oakland A’s in 1988.
Tampa Bay Rays philosophy, has always been right from their front office is to play all the numbers, like a milk shake you put it in a blender and then you have the result. The problem is that sometimes a manager needs to have a “feeling” for the game and just because Nick Anderson was his best reliever during the 60-game season; it is simply stupid to bring him in a situation where his best pitcher was leading them to a victory and a tied Series. Anderson’s numbers in the regular season: 2-1 (0.55 ERA) in 19 games he saved six. Anderson’s Postseason numbers: ten games, 14 2.3 innings, 16 hits, nine runs, three home runs, four walks, nine strikeouts.
Rays reliever Nick Anderson’s said after the game: “I take a lot of the blame”.
Tampa Bay Rays was the first teams to do the “experiment” of having a pitcher start a game as an “opener” with the only mission of pitching the first inning. It was in 2018 and it was used by many teams, including the Oakland A’s during their one-game wild card playoff at Yankee Stadium, which they lost.
Manager Bob Melvin named Liam Hendricks his “opener”. During this 2020 World Series we saw Kevin Cash use four outfielders a few times, aside from the defensive shift, which is now common in the game.
All this is well and good, baseball has changed big time, but a manager gets paid to manage the game as it happens and he makes decisions that do not necessarily have to follow the statistics. Just because Nick Anderson is his best reliever, you must bring him in the sixth (6th) inning and remove your best pitcher that was pitching a heck of a game? Folks, Anderson is very good, but he is no Mariano Rivera.
You can call it stupid, dumb, without basis, whatever, but for me this move by Kevin Cash in the sixth inning can be criticized and analyze ’till the cows come home’, but the bottom line is that the Rays lost the game and lost the Series.
Kevin Cash now will have to live and deal with this decision for the rest of his career. He is lucky. Why Lucky? Because he manages a small market team, with a small following and a short history. There were times in baseball when a manager makes such move and the next day is fired, in New York in the days of owner George Steinbrenner, he would have fired you in 30 seconds after you made the decision.
But this doesn’t happen today, because of the computer (who was invented by man) is now running man and obviously many in the game of baseball. Some now just look at the “cold blooded numbers” and forget that baseball is played by humans not robots/computers. It is a game of feeling and that includes the manager.
Unless the Manager becomes a Computer.
Stay well and stay tuned
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio play by play lead announcer for Oakland A’s baseball on 1010 KIQI San Francisco and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com