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July 15, 2005

A well-managed game
by TVerik

Everyone gives Torre occasional grief for his in-game managing, and much of it is deserved. But in last night's Boston game, he consistently made good decisions, and put the Yankees in position to win the game.

First, the lineup:


I believe this to be very close to ideal, given the various abilities and current tendencies of the hitters.

In the seventh inning, Tanyon Sturtze relieved Mike Mussina. Given what Torre had to work with, I believe this is exactly the correct move. Sturtze gave up a home run to Ortiz; that kind of thing happens, and it doesn't invalidate the move.

Also, Tino Martinez came in defensively for Giambi. I'd have preferred this move an inning later, but Joe has consistently done this with the game close after a Giambi AB in the late innings. So I don't fault him for this.

In the eighth, Tony Womack pinch-ran for Posada after his leadoff double. I have no problem whatsoever with this move; this is Tony's best role, and it's a run the Yankees just had to have. Jorge is a disaster on the bases. Womack's speed really didn't come into play, but he scored anyway.

Then Torre pinch-hit Ruben Sierra for Melky Cabrera down one run. I like Melky, but this is why they carry Ruben on the roster. So I'd have made the same move. And Ruben got a big hit, which scored pinch-runner Womack and tied the game.

In the bottom of the inning, Torre brought in Tom Gordon. Again, I have no fault with this move - he's the best guy for the job. Womack stayed in the game to play center, and Flaherty began catching. I may have thrown Womack into left, shifting Matsui into center, but Hideki has played the tough LF wall in Fenway very well over his career; so Torre's alignment makes a lot of sense.

Gordon did his standard act, walking the first man before working a good inning. Neither Womack nor Flaherty were involved in any big plays, to my recollection.

In the ninth, the best part of Torre's lineup was able to produce two runs. Stacking these good hitters together and having them come up at the right time was something else Torre shouldn't get a medal for, but could have screwed up and he didn't.

Finally, he brought in Rivera in the ninth to close it. If you picked another option, you are not qualified to play Second-Guess the Manager. Sorry.

Torre doesn't deserve the Nobel Prize in baseball for his efforts on Thursday; that's what he gets paid to do. But he put players in a position to make a difference, and consistently had his best players around when it was time to win the game.

Contrast this with Francona. I'm not going to second-guess him unduly, but you could argue that if he started the eighth with Timlin instead of Embree (who gave up Posada's double and looked pretty bad in an overall effective seventh), none of this might have happened.