Friday, August 6, 2010

Kip Gross hits his stride

The most notable observations from last night's game came in the top of the eighth inning and it shows just how far Kip Gross' managing has come this year.

Gross after getting tossed from a game on July 25th
In a tight 2-1 ballgame, Gross brought in newcomer Mike Koons to relieve Isaac Hess. Unfortunately, Koon's RAP debut didn't go as planned and in no time at all he loaded the bases with only one out. Out of the dugout sprang Gross and Koons was yanked in favour of Aaron "Handyman" Easton. The 6' 10" righty threw one pitch and retired Cristobal Santana on a pop-up for the second out. With the left-handed Wally Backman Jr. due up next, Gross again went to the mound, this time to bring in the southpaw Jason Kershner. With the left-lefty advantage favouring the Seals, Kershner struck out Backman to end the threat and keep it a one-run game.

Gross obviously wanted Thursday night's game badly and he managed the eighth inning brilliantly -- as one would expect a playoff game to be managed. Part of it is that he finally has an 11-man pitching staff that he has confidence in, but Gross has definitely hit his stride as manager of the Seals. No longer content to sit by himself all game on the home plate side of the dugout, Gross now regularly walks through the dugout to relay instructions to his troops and provide encouragement. I'm also pretty sure I saw Kip smile as he took the long trek from the clubhouse to the home dugout last night. That's good to see, because Gross has done a wonderful job this season and he deserves to savour the moment.