After Sunday’s game against the Twins, Tribe Manager Eric Wedge talked about how unhappy with the effort of his team. The defense was lacking with four errors, all made by rookies who were mid-season recalls. The skipper said it would be a long last two weeks of the season if that was the kind of effort he was going to see for the rest of the year.
Last night, I’ll bet Cliff Lee was upset with his manager’s effort.
Lee pitched fairly well last night, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth. With one out and a 2-1 lead, he walked Frank Thomas and gave up a single to Jay Payton. Lee induced Eric Chavez to fly out to right, but on a 3-2 pitch, Nick Swisher allowed his elbow to wander over the plate to take one for the team. The lefty was obviously upset at home plate umpire Bruce Froemming (who should retire) for not seeing what Swisher had done to get aboard. Whether Lee’s pitch was in the strike zone or not, I’m not sure, but Rick Manning, doing the game for SportsTime Ohio thought it was. However, Eric Wedge never made a move to protest the call.
I don’t want Wedge to be a raving lunatic like Billy Martin or Larry Bowa, guys who screamed at umpires, his own players, media people, fans, etc. However, I do want the skipper to stand up for his players. Bobby Cox is usually among the major league leaders in ejections, yet his players talk about how he never panics, never yells at his people. Cox just doesn’t tolerate umpires who take advantage of his team by having an inconsistant strike zone, not hustling, or not knowing the rules.
Wedge should have asked Froemming to ask for help on the call. I’m sure the second base umpire had a great view of Swisher sticking his elbow in the way of the ball. Even if the decision wasn’t reversed, it would have showed Lee that his manager had his back, and it would have allowed the pitcher a little time to get composed, since the lefty gave up a grand slam to Bobby Kielty on the very next pitch. The 2-1 lead turned into a 5-2 deficit in the blink of an eye. The manager did not come out of the dugout until he removed Lee one hitter later.
If Eric Wedge demands his players play hard until the last inning of Game 162 this season, the players should expect the same from him. I bet Cliff Lee feels a little let down today. His skipper didn’t have his back.