Friday, September 09, 2005

September 9th, 1972

Felix Rodriguez Born

Felix Rodriguez is a long time Major League reliever who landed with the Yankees this season, coming from the Phillies in exchange for Kenny Lofton. Rodriguez has been hurt for a lot of the season, but had recovered sufficiently to appear in this game, which I had the misfortune of attending. Rodriguez was bad--we'll get back to him later--but not of the same order as the evening's starter, Al Leiter.

Leiter pitched five innings, surrendering just one run. That's the good. The bad is everything else. Leiter started the game by giving a single to Shannon Stewart. Then another to Nick Punto. Lew Ford reached on a fielder's choice when Derek Jeter threw to Alex Rodriguez to force Stewart at third. Leiter then struck out Joe Mauer, but Torii Hunter singled leaving the bases loaded. Leiter escaped, however, when Jacques Jones grounded out to Rodriguez. In the second Leiter retired the Corpse of Bret Boone and then Justin Morneau, but Michael Cuddyer doubled. Leiter then proceeded to hit Stewart with a pitch and walk Nick Punto. But Leiter again escaped with a ground out to third when Ford hit one weakly to Rodriguez.

In two innings then, the Twins had four hits, a walk, a HBP and a fielder's choice. They had left the bases loaded twice. And to watch was just torture. It wasn't that Leiter wasn't pitching well--that didn't help, of course--but it was the whole pace of the game. Leiter pitches like he's being paid by the minute. Each pitch required a little walk around the mound, a stare in, several signs being shaken off, and perhaps stepping off the rubber and beginning the whole process over again. And there were a lot of pitches, forty-five in the first two innings alone.

All said, Leiter would allow fourteen base runners, but allow only one to come around to score--the Twins would leave ten men on base, an average of two per inning--and came out of the game having thrown a stunning one hundred fifteen pitchers in five innings. On came Felix Rodriguez. Like the other fifty thousand three hundred and thirty-three people in the stands--excluding perhaps the Twins' fans--I was pleased to see Leiter leave. I was horrified to discover however, that Felix Rodriguez, F-Rod, was a proud graduate of the Al Leiter school of pitching.

Despite allowing just a single in his inning, Rodriguez still needed twenty mind-numbing, time-taking pitches to retire the Twins. Tanyon Sturtze would pitch the next innings, and while he was the least effective Yankee pitcher of the night (giving up three runs on three hits and two walks); it was a relief to see him in the game.

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