Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A No-Decision

Hey, Ned Yost. Would it have killed you to let Chris Young pitch to Josh Donaldson with two out in the fifth?

Young, the 2003 Princeton grad, was the starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series yesterday afternoon. This wasn't just any start. This was the pivotal game of the series, with KC up two games to one over the Toronto Blue Jays, who had won Game 3 at home Sunday night after the Royals won the first two.

As it turned out, Kansas City would win Game 4 by a 14-2 count over the Blue Jays to go up 3-1 and move within a game of a second straight World Series.

Yost, though, had no way of knowing his team had nine more runs in the tank when he had a decision to make about Young in the fifth.

Kansas City had scored four times in the top of the first, before Young ever went out to the mound. Then he promptly got three strikeouts in the bottom of the inning.

The lead grew to 5-0 after two, even though a base-running blunder may have cost the Royals even more. Then Young gave up two in the third, making it 5-2 Kansas City. He had an easy fourth, and it was 5-2 into the bottom of the fifth.

Young got two outs and then gave up a single, which brought Donaldson - probably the American League MVP when the award is announced next month - to the plate. Donaldson had mashed a Young pitch for a ground rule double in the two-run third, and that's probably what Yost was thinking.

And so he took Young out. One more out, and Young would have gotten the win. Instead, he finished with 4 2/3 innings, three hits, two runs, two walks and four strikeouts. Then four Royals relievers allowed one hit and no runs each the rest of the way.

Oh, and the KC offense added four in the seventh, three in the eighth and two in the ninth. Final, 14-2.

So Young got a no-decision.

If this had been a regular season game, there is no way the manager would have taken him out there. In a pivotal ALCS game, with the World Series looming and the memory of Donaldson's shot two innings earlier, then Yost made the change.

Was that the right move?

It depends. Even if Donaldson had hit the ball 20 miles, it still would only have been 5-4. And TigerBlog isn't a huge fan of going to the bullpen that early unless it's necessary.

Of course, TB isn't a fan of having relievers go one inning each either for that much of a game. All it takes is one to have a bad inning to change the game in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, scoring nine runs in the final three innings changes all of that.

Now it looks all the world like Young and Kansas City are going to make it to the World Series. They need to win just one of the final three.

TigerBlog has no idea if a Princeton player has ever played in the World Series before. He's going to have to check on that, unless he's overlooking someone completely obvious.

When the Mets-Cubs game began, TigerBlog got a text from his former colleague Yariv Amir, who said that this had to be the first time that two Ivy Leaguers started league championship series games on the same day. Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks is a Dartmouth grad.

Yariv is a huge Mets fan. He's not one of the bandwagon types that are coming out of the woodwork these days.

Yariv had a partial season ticket plan during the leanest of years for the team. He and Jon Kurian from the business office are definitely not bandwagon jumpers.

TigerBlog grew up a Mets fan. He went to Shea Stadium for the first time back in 1970 or so. He hasn't been a huge Mets fan for years though.

Yariv and Kurian have been. So has Jim Barlow, the men's soccer coach. He didn't want anyone spoiling the results of Mets games that he'd DVRd, even when the Mets were far, far away from contention.

Peter Farrell, the women's track and field coach, came in the other day wearing a Mets jacket. He claims to be a longtime Mets fan, and maybe he was, back all the way to 1969.

Still, in all of the time that TigerBlog has known Farrell, he's never once mentioned the Mets. So, uh, yeah, TB believes you Peter.

Yariv, in addition to being a big Mets fan, is a former baseball contact at Princeton. So would he root for Young or New York if the World Series becomes a matchup between the two?

Yariv said the Mets. So did Kurian.

TigerBlog would have to go with Young, one of his all-time favorite Princeton athletes, back when he played basketball and baseball here. It's hard to think that he's 36 now, a veteran of more than a decade in the Major Leagues.

He would have figured out a way to get one more out.

Oh well. He didn't get the win. He may get a bigger prize though.

A chance to pitch in the World Series.

1 comment:

Peter said...

A number played for the Princeton Rays. Not the same thing as the Tigers, but you just asked whether any Princeton players made it to the World Series.