There’s no shortage of crimes against baseball that KC manager Trey Hillman finds himself accused of by Rainy On The Royals’ Rany Jazayerli ; a recent list would include failure to discipline the indifferent Yuniesky Betancourt and allowing a 1B neophyte to make his debut at said position during extra innings of a tie game. But there’s no offense more grating to Jazayerli than Hillman’s handling Saturday night of starter Gil Meche in a 3-2 loss to the Rangers. The chronology of how Meche lost a game he should’ve been pulled from far earlier ought to be read in Jazayerli’s full post, but the amongst the most scathing condemnations of Hillman is the way Saturday was a virtual re-run of the overextended hurler’s collapse against Minnesota less than a year ago.
Gil Meche, who started complaining of a tired arm after throwing 132 pitches in a complete game last June, and who has been consistently awful since throwing 121 pitches with a dead arm last July 1, and who wasn™t pitching well so much as pitching lucky on this night, was allowed to throw 128 pitches “ the longest outing by any major league pitcher this season “ on Saturday night. He was left in to complete the 8th inning, despite a fresh bullpen, and despite the fact that he allowed the first three batters to reach base safely.
Oh, yeah – and as a result, Meche surrenders the game-winning run.
Does anyone remember what happened in that game on July 1st? Because Hillman clearly doesn™t. Meche started the 6th inning that day, in a game tied 2-2, having thrown 99 pitches. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base. With two outs, he then allowed a walk, putting men on first and second with two outs. Hillman left him in to pitch “ TO JOE MAUER “ and Mauer hit the go-ahead single. Meche has never been the same since.
Last night, facing a virtually identical situation, Hillman made the exact same decisions. It™s as if the game of July 1st never happened. It™s as if I and Joe Posnanski and a hundred other bloggers “ Royals fans and non-Royals fans “ hadn™t immediately declared Hillman™s decision to be one of the dumbest moves of the season. It™s as if we weren™t immediately proven correct when Meche™s season went into the tank. It™s as if Meche didn™t miss the entire month of September. It™s as if those who do not learn from history are not actually doomed to repeat it.
But they are. Ten months ago, Trey Hillman made perhaps the worst decision of his managerial career, and ruined “ perhaps irrevocably “ his second-best starting pitcher. Yesterday, faced with the same choice, he made the exact same decision. There can be no stronger evidence that Hillman hasn™t learned a thing on the job.