So the Dbacks made it through the first half of this week's interleague play with only a few battle scars. Losing to the Royals was bad, admittedly, as was the drubbing from Oakland on Tuesday night. Despite all of this, the Dbacks are now rolling along heading into the road trip from hell.
The only thing that can stop them is Bob Melvin.
I want to root and cheer for Micah Owings, I do. He's a nice kid. He signs baseballs with scripture notations. He is athletic and always runs hard (something I can't say about the guy at second base). Really, any anger I feel towards him should be directed squarely towards the dugout. Despite all of that, it would seem like every game I have to take a break from booing Chris Burke (another issue all together) and direct it at Micah Owings.
You see, it hurts to watch an AL manager run an NL team. Some days, it is truly painstaking. Wednesday was one of those days.
Sure, many will forget about the incident because of the Justin Upton go-ahead home run, but I cannot. Bob Melvin believes that he has David Ortiz with an arm slotted in his number-5 spot in the rotation and that he will be clutch any and every time he is called upon. Bob Melvin needs to wake up.
Micah Owings is hitting .255 (after Wednesday). That's a number that actually shows up as respectable when you look at the Dbacks lineup, but that number is deceptive. In only 51 plate appearances, Micah has managed one home run and 19 strikeouts. The guy hits well...but he hits well FOR A PITCHER.
This sort of situation is great when you are playing a 15 inning game or the pitcher happens to be starting that day. These situations benefit good-hitting pitchers. In actuality, a decent-hitting pitcher is a great guy to have when you need a pinch hitter in the 4th or 5th inning but don't want to use up your bench too soon. All of these situations are great, and they are really part of the reason that NL baseball is far superior to AL baseball.
What Bob Melvin is having trouble understanding is that Micah Owings is not a viable option with runners on the corners, one out, and the game tied at 1 in the 7th. Because of this lack of understanding, this is the situation that Dbacks fans were treated to on Wednesday afternoon.
After a Chris Young single and a Chris Snyder sacrifice, Young stood at second with one out. Thankfully Melvin realized the problems with Chris Burke being asked to hit anything spheroid shaped and brought in Alex Romero as a pinch hitter. After he struck out and advanced (along with Young) on the wild pitch, runners stood on the corners and the pitcher's spot was coming up. With .261 hitting Stephen Drew, .243 Miguel Montero, and .235 hitting Jeff Salazar all available on the bench to drive in the go-ahead run, Melvin opted for everyone's favorite side show act - The Micah Owings Strikeout Extravaganza.
Simply looking at batting averages, an outsider may not see much difference between .261 (going into the game) and .235. There isn't much, really. Owings is, however, the only righty of the bunch. Alan Embree, a lefty, was on the mound, which is obviously what promted Melvin to use the right handed hitter. Melvin probably knows that left-handed hitters actually are hitting at a higher average (.243 compared to .239) off Embree, but he chose to ignore it and play the imaginary percentages.
What transpired was an exact replica of the events of June 12th when Micah was brought in to pinch hit for Danny Haren in the 7th. Runners were on the corners with two outs and the Dbacks were down by two. Johan Santana (another lefty) was the pitcher.
Fastball - swinging strike one.
Fastball - swinging strike two.
Fastball - swinging strike three.
Thank you, good night.
Owings is hitting .211 against lefties this year in 40 plate appearances. In that 40, he has struck out 20 times! To compound that, Owings is hitting .155 in his last 15 at bats. There is simply no excuse.
The experiment is over. The test subject has failed.
There are many occasions when I love watching Micah hit, but lately, it has become trying and painful. Bob Melvin needs to do us all a favor and take the chances with Sally, Monte, Drew, Augie, Rome, or whoever else happens to be on the bench at the time.
The Great Micah Owings Experiment has ended. Time to play baseball.