3/23 Vs the Orioles
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.