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How Colorado Rockies Manager Jim Tracy Lost the Division Series
This is simple, simple stuff. It's not a secret that Howard has extreme lefty-righty splits.
True, the Rockies were hamstrung to a certain extent by the loss of left-hander Jorge de la Rosa, who likely would have started Game 3 had he not been injured. But why Tracy insisted on making his pitchers face (the equivalent of) Albert Pujols with the game on the line, instead of David Eckstein is beyond me.
Monday night, during the pivotal ninth inning, as Tracy allowed Street to face Howard with the tying runs on base, you could totally see what was about to happen. Although he had already used Morales, Tracy had another left-hander, Joe Beimel, available in his bullpen. But he let Street face Howard, and the only miracle is that Howard's inevitable rocket didn't leave the ballpark. Once the Phillies took the lead, Tracy finally yanked Street and put in Beimel to clean up the debris -- too late to save the Rockies' season.
(It's true, as Nationals fans will recall, that Beimel does not exactly own Howard. Over the course of 2009, in fact, Howard came within a single of hitting for the cycle against him, going 3 for 7 with a double, a triple and a homer. But before this season, Howard was 0 for 3 with four walks against him, and Beimel also retired Howard on a weak pop up in the fifth inning of Game 3 Sunday night, with the score tied and a runner on.)
I understand that Street is the Rockies' closer and that closers are supposed to pitch the ninth inning, no matter what. But here is a case where the entire game and your entire season are on the line, and you need one more out, and your choices are simple: Street vs. Albert Pujols, or Beimel vs. David Eckstein. If it's me, I ignore tradition, and I put aside Street's potential hurt feelings, and I pitch to Eckstein.
And then I get ready for Game 5.
The Rockies, on the other hand, are finished.
I think I want my manager of the year vote back.
-- Dave Sheinin