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Relief Pitchers Can't Provide Relief Unless You Let Them

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Everyone wanted to take the blame for Tuesday night's 5-4 loss to the Rays.

    C.J. Wilson wanted to be flogged for allowing a pair of game-tying home runs, including another one to a left-handed hitter when Matt Joyce took him deep in the seventh inning. Elvis Andrus asked for 50 lashes as a result of not snagging a blooper that dropped in for a hit just before Evan Longoria's game-winning homer.

    And, finally, there was Ron Washington confessing his sins in the clubhouse after the game. Wash wanted absolution for not having Neftali Feliz ready to go to face Longoria in the eighth, a non-decision that forced Arthur Rhodes to square off with a great righty hitter with the game on the line. The results were predictable which should tell you which of these guys deserve the blame. 

    Washington's error was awful and not just because there was absolutely no reason for not having Feliz (or Yoshinori Tateyama) ready to pitch to Longoria. It was compounded by Washington's apparent belief that there's no way to avoid a bad pitcher-hitter matchup in favor of a more advantageous one.

    Once Johnny Damon singled, Washington could have had Mike Maddux visit the mound while someone got fired up in the bullpen. Rhodes could have thrown to first two or three times and then slowly intentionally walked Longoria to get to B.J. Upton. Upton also swings righty and is both a lesser hitter and a more likely strikeout than Longoria.

    And all of that is ignoring the fact that Washington could have elected to simply leave Mark Lowe in the game with an eye toward getting out the most dangerous man in the Rays lineup. Pitching around Damon is another option that apparently doesn't get considered in the Texas dugout.

    Just yesterday we were saying that Washington sometimes talks like a guy who is unaware of the fact that he can make decisions. We were kidding, but perhaps Tuesday night was a reminder of why they say there's a bit of truth behind every joke.

    It's totally inexcusable to allow Rhodes, who has now allowed three homers to righties in their last 14 at-bats, to face such a good hitter with so much in the balance. Saying you should have had Feliz up simply makes it worse because it begs the question of why he wasn't in the game earlier if you were willing to use him for four outs.

    Oh, right, because he keeps getting crushed by opposing hitters. So Tateyama, then, or, really, anybody but Rhodes.

    In short, Washington had a ton of options available to him and each one of them were more preferable to the one he chose. Maddux deserves some blame here too because the guy who watched the captain steer the Titanic into an iceberg doesn't deserve to get off scott free.

    Much has been made about the Rangers' need for help in the bullpen. You could have seven Mariano Riveras and it wouldn't make much of a difference if Washington keeps managing like this.