THE GREATEST GAME INDEED
I’m still not sold out for Jon Garland. But it’s certainly getting harder and harder to ignore what he’s accomplishing. It’s not the 7-0 record that impresses me. This is what impresses me: 52.2 IP and only 8 BB and 3 HR allowed. That is amazing. His career numbers are nowhere near that. In HR allowed he has averaged about 1 every 6 innings. This year it’s almost 1 every 18 innings. His career strikeout to walk ratio was bad as was the number of walks allowed. He has gone from a career 1.37 K/BB to a 2.88 K/BB ratio. And has cut down on all the walks. The ripple effect is less pitches, less men on base and the ability to actually get deeper in games. Garland’s 2005 season to date is absent of those ’105 pitches through 5 innings’ games. People blame Manuel and say Ozzie is the reason for his success but I don’t believe that. He never gave himself a chance to stay in the games until this season. This year he is challenging and fooling batters. And getting results. You get ahead of the count, you make them hit your pitch, you succeed. It is a formula he has not been able to put into practice. Until now.
It is a remarkable turnaround, especially when you consider there has never been any empirical data to support the case that this was coming. Opponents OPS is down to .566 from his career .767. Even in the minors his numbers never approached his 2005 numbers. People remember the low ERA and 9-2 record before his call up to the bigs. But his other numbers were fairly pedestrian that year– and throughout his career with the Sox and the minors. Which leads me all to this: It is truly the greatest game. It’s quite a story and why baseball is so exciting from year to year. You never know what will happen and every year has something memorable that fans will cherish forever. Even if the Sox don’t make the playoffs and Garland goes back to being his former self, I suspect we will always remember this Sox team as something special.