I mentioned during the early stages of the open thread that these kinds of games are surprisingly fun to write about. Then I remembered, wait, no they aren't.
Biggest Contribution: Richie Sexson, +3.3%
Biggest Suckfest: Gil Meche, -14.4%
Most Important At Bat: Ibanez homer, +4.5%
Most Important Pitch: DeRosa single, -10.4%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -18.3%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -33.2%
The only thing I'm going to (quickly) address right now is Gil Meche's godawful performance, quite possibly the worst of his career. Where the hell did that come from? The guy's hardly been money over his last few starts, but it takes a special kind of terrible to walk six of the 13 batters you face before getting yanked.
By the time I got home Meche was already gone, and I was left with a line score. My initial suspicion, as is the case for anyone with such exceptionally lousy control and Meche's extensive medical record, was that there was something acting up in his elbow. I decided to wait for the MLB.tv archived footage so I could go back and look for the usual symptoms, but I didn't really see anything - the only evidence to support an injury was the fact that everything he threw missed its spot, which can be caused by any number of things. Gil's release point was all over the place, but that's a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself, and besides, of course it was all over the place. That's generally where bad control comes from. The key is to figure out what's causing the inconsistent release point in the first place, and from what I can tell, it's nothing that's visible in his delivery.
Far more likely than a wonky elbow, then, is the explanation offered by Gil himself:
"I felt like I tried to do too many things, thinking, where's my hand, where's my arm?" he said. "Those aren't good things to be thinking about, especially when you're struggling. The main focus is getting the ball and throwing it. I just couldn't get it out of my head, thinking mechanics.
"Just go out there, relax and make pitches. Don't try to do too much with one pitch. Putting too much pressure on yourself or not, it doesn't matter. It's a matter of making pitches and just doing your job, and I didn't even come close to doing that today."
It's easy to see why the old "million dollar arm, ten cent head" expression has been applied to Meche so many times throughout his career. Simply put, he's not the most mentally stable and steady guy when he's out there on the mound. We've known this forever. Whenever Gil strings together a bunch of good starts you hear people saying things like "he's finally relaxing and letting his stuff do the work," implying that he's gotten over his days of being a headcase. And as has been the case each and every time so far, it hasn't been true.
Gil's an overthinker. Not in the way that Greg Maddux or Curt Schilling constantly analyze every at bat; where those guys think about the hitter, Gil thinks about himself. I don't know how far back this goes, but at least in recent years, Bryan Price constantly messing around with Gil's delivery almost certainly didn't help him develop any more confidence in his mechanics. Whenever he runs into trouble he starts worrying about the position of his glove or his head or his stride or his release point or anything else he thinks might be wrong, and he just digs a deeper hole for himself, because you can't start thinking about all your moving parts in the middle of your throwing motion and expect things to work out. If you focus on getting your glove in the right place, you might open up too early. If you focus on releasing closer to the plate, you might get your arm ahead of your body or hold on too long. If you focus on your hip rotation, you might be inclined to short-arm the ball. The reason a pitcher needs to have a consistent delivery is so that he can get it engrained in his muscle memory, which allows him to focus on the batter instead of his own motion during a game. If you think about yourself too much, bad things are going to happen.
I'm almost ashamed for drinking a half-glass of the Gil Meche Kool Aid a few weeks ago, because I should've known better. In fact, I think I did know better, but I let my heart get ahead of my brain, and now I get to feel like an idiot for the rest of my life, all my optimistic thoughts about Gil's season stored away in the site archives for the world to see. So I'm here to say, never again. Never again will I let myself buy into the Gil Meche hype, because every time I've so much as considered viewing him as a reliable pitcher, I've been burned.
After a win in New York a few weeks ago, I said the following:
I didn't think I'd ever be one to write these words, but somewhat against my better judgment, I'm beginning to turn into a Gil Meche believer.
I was wrong. Gil Meche sucks, has always sucked, and will continue to suck for as long as he dares to step onto a mound with a ball in his hand. The only solace I can take from all this is that every bad start he makes right now is costing him at least six figures on the open market this winter and reducing the likelihood that he ends up on a playoff contender. We've all had to put up with this assclown since he was drafted in 1996. Now it's Gil's turn to suffer through a decade of misery and disappointment (and that's a part of his career I can take pleasure in watching).
5:05pm PDT start time tomorrow, with Texas prospect Edison Volquez going up against -...wait, you're kidding, right? They're letting Jamie get a start in Texas? Sweet sweet mercy.
(Rumor has it that Bobby Livingston's coming up to pitch out of the bullpen tomorrow. And we'll need him. For eight innings.)