I almost hate myself for stealing that line from the YES announcers, but it is better than I could have come up with myself. Here it is, in context from the game:
“You know, Slowey’s a gunslinger. He serves it up and dares you to hit it. He’s fearless.”
I was all ready to write a piece about how Slowey had stepped into the lion’s den and had thrown a brilliant game and had advanced to tie Blackburn and Perkins for second on the team in wins. But the game didn’t quite pan out that way.
I, along with (I’m sure) many others, noticed rather early on that Slowey didn’t have all his stuff firing on all cylinders. His fastballs seemed high and outside to the lefties, and the umpire had an absurdly small strike zone. Still, he pitched a superb game until the sixth inning, when he gave up a two-run homer to Bobby Abreu. Then Gardy pulled him after A-Rod singled on a ground ball Punto couldn’t pick up. The Bullpen stepped in and didn’t do so hot.
Kevin Slowey is a gunslinger in the sense of the Wild West. Gunslingers were fearless. They’d ride into town and expect to get in a shoot-out. Supreme confidence. Think John Wayne in some of the old movies. Feeling like crap? The gunslinger still puts himself out there. Gun not loaded properly? Gunslinger still offers up.
Tonight, Slowey stepped up after the ridiculous fiasco of last night. He had the mound presence that Baker only has in his wildest dreams. No Emotion, even when he walked his second batter (which is super low). When he was down in the count, he threw it right in there, challenging the hitters.
The defense, to continue the metaphor, was the buxom dame that does alright when push comes to shove, yet still manages to hit the gunslinger in the head with a bottle of beer/wine at a critical moment. Such were the errors by Brian Buscher and Nick Punto (although Buscher’s wasn’t all that important in the end), as well as that slow grounder he couldn’t quiiiite catch up to. For all his range, he should have easily had that ball.
The offense, well, they’re the stagecoach that never shows up until it is too late, if ever. I do have to send Gomez props for his double and Span for his, well, being awesome.
Tonight, the bullpen was the slightly special sidekick that manages to get the gunslinger in trouble time after time. It has been for the last two games now. The sidekick never actually gets the gunslinger killed, but the sidekick continually digs the hole deeper. I’m not sure if Reyes has kept an inherited runner from scoring all year. Bass was just… Bass. He gave up a run and was mediocre. The surprise, to me, was Jesse Crain, who has been, overall, quite solid. He had just been picked by Sportscenter as a Top Performer over the all-star break, then he goes and does… this. Gross.
The difference between the Western Movie and today was in the ending. Kevin Slowey, as the gunslinger, didn’t get to walk off into the sunset after fighting his way out of the jam. He and the defense didn’t live happily ever after (I don’t know if any of the starting pitchers (except for maybe Livan) is even friends with the defense after the way this season has gone). The sidekick was essentially slaughtered… the gunslinger couldn’t step in and save them. And where was the offense? It certainly didn’t show up at the nick of time, as in the movies, to save the gunslinger with an unlimited supply of bullets and gunpowder. It didn’t bring a second gunslinger… or a friggin’ cannon to get the job done. It is missing.
Few pitchers have had enough spine to try to gut it out the way Slowey has. His composure has never wavered all season. He has just been attending Livan Hernandez’s traveling circus of marksmanship and shipping his backup on the Scott Baker stagecoach line. Just like Scott Baker has pitched better than his lines show, so has Slowey.
The Bullpen, man. Look for a post on that tomorrow. I am far too frustrated to talk about that one tonight.
And the Offense just showed up.
P.S. Kubel running out the double play? Who woulda thunk it?