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3/23 Vs the Orioles

March 23, 2007

I’ll go back and get to some of the questions posted sometime in the next few days. As spring winds down there’s always a lot of personal stuff to take care of as you prepare to move back home. Even worse for the kids in the minor leagues that aren’t sure where they are headed (Except for the fact that a lot of them don’t have wives and kids, which would be a nightmare).

 

Sox win in the ninth today, very nice. Some observations from the game. Erik Bedard is good. I know that’s not exactly a revelation but has he turned the corner. Amazing what being healthy and simplifying things can do. Always had the power arm now it seems as if he’s got a great feel for moving the ball in and out and up and down pretty consistently. He throws hard enough and is just wild enough to be consistently effective.

Kevin Millar, even when he guesses right, can’t make himself swing at my curve ball.

First inning lasted 5 pitches, which was a good thing. First pitch fastball to Brian was a hard out to first, Patterson was out in front of a 1-1 change up for out two and Mora hit a ball that was harder hit than it looked due to the wind, on a first pitch fastball away, to center to end the inning. Not sure why but I felt horrific after the inning. No life at all, can’t pinpoint it but I knew it.

 

With one out in the second Gibbons chased a good split, and then Millar comes up. For 3 years he’s talked trash, in person, through text messages, over the phone, about how I better never throw him my curve ball. Last year in
Baltimore I started him off with it, he took it for a strike. Today I shake ‘Tek 3-4 times, Millar calls time out, steps out and says to ‘Tek “What the hells he want an 0-0 curve ball?”, curve ball strike one. Curve ball again, yanked foul, now he’s laughing, and I am trying not to. Curve ball again he lays off. Count gets to 2-2 and he freezes on a 2 seamer inside for strike three. I don’t know if he’s debating the call or just talking, one never knows with him, but he never looks my way as I go into the dugout.

 

Bynum gets the first hit in the third on a fastball in, after some good fastballs away and a few good change ups to get ahead. One of the few hitters in their lineup I wasn’t sure how to pitch, but like every guy that can run in the game he can handle a fastball, especially on the inner half. Bako strikes out on a fastball away and I get Roberts for the third out on a good cutter in off the plate which jams him for a slow roller to first.

 

Fourth inning starts off innocently enough. Patterson and Mora make outs and I get Tejada to two strikes, then jam him with a two seamer and the ball comes back at me as a change up. I reach before it gets there and it nicks my calf, then turns into what should be a routine out to Lugo.

 

At the last second it takes a nasty hop and becomes a hit instead. I end up turning that into two runs. Two outs, two strikes, no one on, and it turns into a two run inning. Cardinal sin of pitching, is allowing something like that inning to happen with two outs and no one on. I throw Gibbons three consecutive incredibly bad change ups to run the count 3-0. Come back with two good fastballs to run the count full and then leave a change up out and up that he hits into the gap in left center field to drive in the first run. Millar rips the next pitch, fastball away, into the same spot for another double for the second run. I end up jamming Payton with a two seamer to end the inning but the damage is done.

 

During the regular season this would have been a huge turning point, because the way Erik was throwing he wasn’t going to give much, if anything, up. Most games, especially games when the guy you are opposing is as on as he was, ‘crooked numbers’ will cost you. Jim Palmer told me a long time ago that the pitchers that avoid ‘crooked numbers’ win more games. An obvious theory but one that has a lot deeper meaning that what it says. Staying away from walks keeps the crooked number theory very much in play. For most pitchers you rarely see 2 hits leading to a run, even rarer that teams will bunch 3 or more hits together. You add a walk into the mix, or two, and those 2-3 hits lead to 2 or more runs. Simple math; the on base percentage for a base on balls is .1000, the on base percentage for even some of the easier to hit pitchers in the game is .300, or lower. If a hitter puts the ball in play, even the best hitters, he makes an out 65% of the time if he’s a GREAT hitter, 70% or more for most guys that play the game.

 

Fifth inning single by Bako on a fastball away. Good pitch that was hit where I expected it. Part of spring training is getting to know the new defensive coach, working with him and the infielders as well. Talked to Dustin after this as well. I’ve always wanted the infielders to position themselves hitter to hitter, pitch to pitch when I am on the mound. If a hitter hits a mistake in a place we aren’t defending then that’s on me, when a hitter hits a pitch you locate, to a spot in the field you expect him to, and it’s not an out, then it falls on the pitcher to fix it.

 

Sixth and seventh go by and ‘Tek and I get our work in. The main reason this game was as important to me as it was, was to see if the change up has come as far as I hoped it had and I felt that it did. Starting to see hitters way out in front and lunging, which is a good thing. Even on the ones I am missing spots with we are getting outs and bad swings. Fastball command was a lot better today as was my slider and curveball. Threw some good splits as well. Overall I didn’t run up the pitch count as I hoped I might, even though I felt I went to some full counts with pitch selection that wasn’t normal, we got through seven under 90 pitches, that’s a good thing.

 

The change up will reduce my pitch counts, that much I know now. Now it’s just a matter of fine tuning some stuff before Wednesday, deciding exactly what I want to finish working on to be ready for opening day in KC.

 

Don’t fret about ‘Tek, his bats going to be there when it counts. He’s spending a massive amount of time working on his swing and that tends to be something you don’t see in spring training at bats, the results anyway. He’s healthy, feels great and is grinding away to get comfortable at the plate, when the games start counting I’d bet he’ll be exactly where he needs to be.

65 Comments leave one →
  1. edru13 permalink
    March 24, 2007 7:57 am

    Curt, gotta be honest it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s refreshing to be able to get quotes/comments/thoughts etc. directly from the source that aren’t tainted or spun by the writers who have an agenda, or think that they are ‘the show’. Which happens all to often around here. Anyway, although the inside stuff with Millar is great, I think the best part of the blog was assessment regarding the simple math around pitching (below). As a coach, when you have young pitchers struggling the best thing you can do to build up their confidence is break it down to it’s simplest form. Which, as you’ve stated, is the fact that you can go out there with nothing but if you stay around the plate, you have a 65% chance of recording an out against the top guys. 70% to 75% chance against everyone else. You gotta love those odds. I believe that this type of reasoning is the quickest way a pitcher can gain his confidence back.

    “Simple math; the on base percentage for a base on balls is .1000, the on base percentage for even some of the easier to hit pitchers in the game is .300, or lower. If a hitter puts the ball in play, even the best hitters, he makes an out 65% of the time if he’s a GREAT hitter, 70% or more for most guys that play the game.”

  2. March 24, 2007 8:06 am

    Funny you mentioned that crooked number. Trup and Joe C. use that term all the time when calling games on the radio. I always thought it was just one of their funny phrases that they used and not something that was actually meaningful as a player. (Sad to see Trup gone by the way.)

  3. nsulham permalink
    March 24, 2007 8:51 am

    Hey Curt, as a rabid Sox fan I very much enjoy the blog. My fiance and I recently got engaged last weekend. You and Shonda seem to have a great marriage, as evidenced by you standing by her during her medical scare and her support for you as a husband always on the road. Any advice for a soon-to-be husband like myself?

  4. mikef88 permalink
    March 24, 2007 10:15 am

    Hi Curt,

    I’ve been a RedSox Fan my whole life ..(Long time 50 yrs.) Love Baseball .. Love the Pitcher vs. batter battle .. My questions have to do types of pitching ..
    Curve ball… R vs. R will it break from 2->8 or 12->6 or is it just what the individual pitcher throws ??
    Slider R vs. R Same movement as a curve ball .. But the arm slot is different??
    I have no idea on this ‘GRYO’ ball but it makes for good baseball talk. And we all know the Media needs all the help it can get …
    One more question .. Is it better to have multiple (3-5) different pitches that are average;
    or only (2) pitches Fast ball + change-up that are devastating ?

    Thanks in advance

    MikeF88

  5. acefox1 permalink
    March 24, 2007 10:39 am

    I know you have often talked about limiting walks as being a big part of your success. Seeing you go through another outing yesterday notching up 6 K’s with no BB’s made me wonder what you do differently to limit walks as successfully as you do.

    I know the obvious answer would be to throw strikes and go right after the hitter, but is there something different between you and other pitchers in either your mental approach or what you are able to execute in deep counts???

    Thanks again Curt and give Tek a shaving cream pie for that jack he hit out yesterday. We’re all pulling for him and know he’ll have a great year.

    Thanks again!!

    Deane

  6. azredsoxfan permalink
    March 24, 2007 10:40 am

    Curt,

    Whatever fandom you realized in the past will grow exponentially, as this season and your bloging continues. What a fantastic way to reach your fan base. Your description of the Millar at bat (and some of your replies to the idiot fan questions) border on hilarity. You didn’t mention if ‘tek was breaking up too, but I imagine he must’ve been.

    My question: The Red Sox – Yankees is one of the (if not the) greatest rivalry in all of sports. Sometimes the rivalry spills out into bench clearing brawls, which (from the fans perspective) only increases the intensity (last one 2003). Are bench clearings (that you may have been involved in)mostly dust-ups that are shortly forgotten by the players, or do they really linger throughout the season, and increase the passion, as they do between the fans? (see the bleachers!)

    Thanks.

  7. bdhotcorner permalink
    March 24, 2007 11:29 am

    Curt,

    I like that you are old school.

    I like it when pitchers, believe they are in the game as more than the man with the ball.

    It defys the addage – “Pitchers pitch, hitters hit, fielders field”

    I always believed that a pitcher who understood the defensive approach as well as the whole theory, was all talk no action. In regards to placement on a particular pitch and count. However, it is more thoery than practice. Sometimes, this theory sounds great but rarely is the follow through there. Why is it the pitchers responsibility to position the fielders?

    I know for a fact, I am not offering advice during an AB to a pitcher, unless I am catching or in the dugout with the pitching coach or manager. I may come in to settle down the pitcher, or give a break, but that is it. Do you feel that this is something that adds separation or a competitive advantage. Is it something you find gives you more piece of mind? Or is this something you learned from playing? Or is this an immediate reaction to a humbling experience? (Ie did you shake off an inside fastball, try and overthrow a slider, and the guy bangs it through, but it was a tweaner? Hardheadedness?

    Personally I find it is a convenient scapegoat. For example as an IF, there is nothing more unnerving that watching a pitcher come apart at the seams, consistently get behind give up a few hits, a couple of walks, and then make a good pitch and the batter gets a little flare that falls in or a seeing eye ground ball that ventures past the outstretched arm of a diving infielder, and then the pitcher boils and says “I need to understand what the defense is doing or they need to understand what I am doing”. However, when the IF makes a play that was unexpected they are 1st ones to high five off the field. I always get a chuckle.

    (I often wonder if that is the reason they practice separate from the rest of us.)

    Tendencies aside, situational baseball calls for players with instinctive reactions. As INF and OF players get comfortable with the pitchers, more often than not, it becomes almost instinctive to be in position. They understand the weaknesses of that particular game along with what is working or will see something and bring it to the catcher’s attention. (Personally, the catcher 1st then the pitcher – baseball etiquette)

    Its all follow through and trust. As a pitcher or an IF , understanding an approach is so different than instinctive approach.

    I think that with the changing of the game to more specific and role players, this thoery becomes more a personal issue.

    I appreciate your insight and hope to be able to discuss more as the season begins.

  8. oriolemagic permalink
    March 24, 2007 11:39 am

    I have to say, as an Oriole fan, that it’s wonderful to hear such a high quality pitcher like Curt Schilling saying that Erik Bedard has turned the corner. That just couldn’t mean more.

    Now maybe we can help you guys whoop up on the Yankees a little bit!

    As for the Kevin Millar stuff, I think it’s awesome that he’s still friendly with the Red Sox team. Just shows how really tight that 2004 group was.

  9. jsindal permalink
    March 24, 2007 11:53 am

    Great recap. Hope we can look forward to this during the season, as this is obviously far better than any sportswriter’s assessment of how you pitched!

    Good luck in ’07.

  10. vegasdeaner permalink
    March 24, 2007 1:34 pm

    Thanks for setting up this blog and sharing your thoughts with us. It is great to hear directly from you without the Boston media twisting up your words to create drama. This is you taking action to speak to the fans directly and so far it is great. I bet Dan Shaughnessy will find something negative to say about it. Looking forward to the next post.

  11. bosox7777 permalink
    March 24, 2007 9:20 pm

    This year you and beckett should win 20 easy.

  12. camuyarenas permalink
    March 25, 2007 11:51 am

    Hello Curt, I’m Vernon Santos from Camuy, Puerto Rico, and I have always admired you as a baseball player and as a human being, you have shown that you have a big heart not only for the mound but in life in general. Keep on being yourself no matter what, and my father and I wish yo good luck and a lot of health this year. Go win those 20 !!

  13. williamsfreak permalink
    April 7, 2007 1:35 pm

    this is the best part about inside baseball

  14. yankeearodfan permalink
    April 11, 2007 2:31 pm

    Mr. Schilling,
    I want to keep this respectful for as long as possible. I’m a Yankee fan, so I probably don’t belong here. But when Curt Schilling comes out with a blog, my first reaction is that it’s bound to be the most pretentious thing going. But I will keep an open mind. First things first: Did you get the name of the blog from the number of pitches you threw in your first start against the Royals? Easy, big guy. You’re supposed to have a sense of humor, aren’t you? There’s sure to be some interesting stuff in your blog. I’ll at least give it a chance. By the way, what do you think of Alex Rodriguez’s start? Was just curious. Let’s chat soon.

  15. mattlenny permalink
    December 24, 2007 11:42 am

    Curt,

    I understand why you can’t get super specific about an at-bat most of the time, but that explanation of the Millar at-bat in the 2nd was priceless for a true baseball fan. Thanks.

    Matt

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