Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lee Rings Bell

I was originally going to take Heath Bell to task for giving Derrek Lee a pitch to hit in the bottom of the 10th inning. Lee is a beastly hitter, and has been for some time, though early in his career Pro Player Stadium kept his HR totals a cut below those of the usual suspects. Now 29 and in the friendly confines, he's really starting to go off. He was leading the NL in all three Triple Crown categories for a minute there, and he hasn't cooled off much.

So I was unhappy to see that Bell surrendered Lee's tenth (10th) home run of the young season in the bottom of the tenth (10th) inning. Of course, the game appeared to be over in the ninth, and would have been had Heath not induced a crucial 1-2-3 double play, but still... why then fool with the league's hottest hitter?

Well I looked at the archived broadcast on, and realized that Lee was leading off the inning. I'm aware of the the conventional wisdom that it's generally better to keep the winning run off base if you can avoid it, and it does have the ring of truth to it.

Also, the homer came on the eleventh (11th) pitch of the at-bat. Bell got ahead 0-2, then threw three balls out of the strike zone, hoping to get Lee to chase. He didn't, then he fouled the next five pitches off, including one that nicked Piazza badly enough to get the trainer out of the dugout. (The Chicago fans actually booed him as he was being attended to, the savages.) It was a battle, and Lee finally got a ball over the plate, which is all he needs right now. You'll get him next time, buddy.

It was a disappointing way to end the series, but Maddux had a throwback outing, and Prior was pretty much Prior. That's the story of those last two games and it's not especially tragic. The bats will need to wake up a little bit against the Cardinals, I'm afraid. We're throwing Glavine (shudder), Martinez, and Heilman.

At the very least, we TWC subscribers will now be able to actually watch these games. Our long local nightmare is over.

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