|For reasons unbeknownst to Yankees fans and sports analysts alike, Torre has spent the past three seasons giving Tanyon Sturtze chance after chance to pitch the Yankees out of tight spots, only to see the same results repeated ad nauseam. We’ve watched Sturtze squander leads, load up the bases, walk in runs and give up homers, and despite all of this Torre seems to have some sort of unfaltering confidence in the lad—similar to a father refusing to let his vertically-challenged son’s NBA dreams die—and continues to give him the ball game after game.
After last Sunday’s game against the Rangers, though, it looks like even Torre is ready to admit that it might be time to put little Tanyon on the bench for a bit. After coming into the game with a lead in the 7th inning, Sturtze walked Brad Wilkerson and then made an throwing error on a Mark DeRosa ground ball. He then loaded the bases by walking Gerald Laird—all this before the Yanks could make an out.
"I wanted to wring his neck," Torre said. "You have to keep in mind the score, and he looked like he was trying to get rid of the ball to get a double play. We just need one out there. He dug himself a hole."
The good news, of course, is that Scott Proctor came into the game and managed to get the 3 outs while allowing only 1 of his inherited baserunners to score. Such has been the case with Dr. Proctor all year. He has been locking down innings (and cleaning up Sturtze’s messes) all season, averaging less than a run per nine innings in the last 30 days. He’s only given up 12 hits and 1 homer in his 20+ innings thus far, and his WHIP is a very respectable 1.08. Torre is reportedly very pleased with Proctor’s performance and has made note of the changes he has made since last year, namely his newfound ability to get players out after getting ahead in the count. If you’ll recall, in previous seasons he seemed to have no problem getting a count to 0-2 with his fastball;rd one. This year, Proctor has incorporated a sweet curveball to keep batters on their toes and off the bases. the trouble would be that after seeing 2 fastballs the opposing batter figured out how to hit the 3 It seems to be working: lefty batters are hitting just .200 against him, and righties just .160.
"He's been a very pleasant surprise," Torre said. "If you expect to win pennants and championships, you want the pleasant surprises to outnumber the other ones. In a very important role, he's been a great surprise for us."
Torre will undoubtedly continue to give Sturtze more chances to redeem himself. Such is the way with the old softie, never wanting his players to fail, always believing that one more chance will be all it takes to turn a kid around. For the immediate future, though, Proctor will likely be Torre’s go-to man in the 6th or 7th innings, protecting us fans from the Hurtze—until his next chance.
*Yankees Chick apologizes for the painful rhymes.