John Rocker came into the Devil Rays game last night amid cheers of "Rocker, Rocker"--he is in his element after all in Tampa. Tampa Bay was leading 1-0 with two outs in the eighth. Piniella was using Rocker in a setup situation.
Rocker quickly walked to batters, Bobby Higginson and Dimitri Young, on 3-2 counts (plus one extra fouled-off strike). He then left amid boos, either for his performance or his being replaced.
Lance Carter replaced Rocker and proceded to get teh next four men in order including two strikeouts for his sixth save. Piniella had said earlier in the week that Carter would only be used to start off an inning and that he would not be asked to pitch more than an inning. That approach lasted only one relief appearance.
We are evidently witnessinga more circumspect Rocker:
"Maybe I'm a little wiser than I was four, five years ago," Rocker said. "I have four, five years more of experience under my belt. I just see things in a little different light than I used to."
Well, it's good to see, at least, that he has been humbled by his experience.
I score the first round to Lance Carter. But Rocker did not have his usual heat yet--maybe that's a good argument for him to have gotten a bit more seasoning in the minors than 4 innings. Once (or perhaps if) he gets his fastball back up into the mid-ninties, things may change.
There's always the possibility that Piniella wanted to have Rocker's presence in bullpen to incentivize Carter. At least that's how it played out last night.