Garner's just as responsible as Hoffman

Originally Published: July 12, 2006
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
I don't think I've said this many times or written it ever ... but I completely agree with John Kruk: Phil Garner blew this game in the ninth just as surely (and with significantly more premeditation) as Trevor Hoffman did.

It was simply unconscionable of Garner to lose a one-run game without using Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen ... particularly since the ninth inning featured lesser defensive players in left field and at third base. Somehow, Garner's late ineptitude managed to reverse-trump the early ineptitude of Ozzie Guillen, who somehow decided to favor Kenny Rogers with two innings, Johan Santana with one, and Francisco Liriano with none. I'm sure we could parse all the other substitutions and non-subsitutions, but those do a pretty good job, I think, of summing up the seriousness with which the managers took their assigned chores.

• Watching Brad Penny throw gas in the first inning reminded me why my regard for great relief pitchers has lessened over the years. Penny is an excellent starting pitcher, no doubt. But how good would he -- not to mention a few dozen other starters -- be if he could just throw like hell for an inning or two, three or four times per week? This question first came to me five years ago, when Ben Sheets dominated for an inning, throwing almost nothing but high-90s fastballs. And I'm not sure that anybody's answered it yet.


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