Games » Detroit TigersJun5
Luke Hochevar continues to mature as a pitcher. When he gets in trouble now, he doesn’t just try to gas it up, he continues to pitch. He gave up one run in seven innings on a homer to Miguel Cabrera…and it wasn’t a bad pitch. If I hit that pitch in that location (a brief disclaimer here: it was a 95-mph sinker up and in, and I could never hit that pitch in that location) I’d be lucky to hit it all the way to the shortstop. Cabrera hit it 417 feet.
After that blast, Luke didn’t panic and try to light up the radar gun. His next five pitches to Brennan Boesch were: an 88 mph cutter, an 83 mph changeup, an 84 mph changeup, a 96 mph 4-seam fastball and an 84 mph changeup. The last pitch, (and that IS pitching) struck Boesch out.
The second time around
Before the game I was talking to Star baseball writer Bob Dutton (he’s the real deal, not an amateur with a press pass) about the success of Blake Wood. He suggested I pay attention to what happens the second time the league gets a look at him. They’ll make some kind of adjustment and then he’ll have to do the same.
In the fourth inning Justin Verlander balked. Even before the replay was shown, former umpire Steve Palermo told us to watch his left knee. Runners at first base will often key on a right-handed pitcher’s heels. If the back heel comes up, he’s coming over to first. If the front heel comes up, he’s going home.
Sneaky pitchers will slightly bend the front knee, (which slightly raises the front heel) and then come over to first, all in one continuous motion. It looked like Verlander tried it and got caught.
If you can throw in the upper 90s, shouldn’t that be enough?
It’s a secret
I asked David DeJesus about his pre-swing ritual. You can see him tap each shoe, take a deep breath and focus on the bat as he holds it in front of him. He may also say a “Hail Mary’, recite the Serenity Prayer and sacrifice a live chicken before he comes to the plate, I don’t know. He didn’t want to get into the specifics of what’s going on, but said he does the same thing every time.
It’s an effort to make every at-bat seem the same and maintain a consistent approach. He also said it helps him relax. I suggested that drugs might be easier, but he still wanted to do it the ‘natural’ way.
Kids today, huh?
Tell me everything you know in 50 words or less
I asked Jason Kendall to talk about the intricacies of catching and he had the same expression you’d expect to see on Albert Einstein face if you asked him for the short version of E=mc2. There’s just so much to explain, it’s overwhelming.
He talked about calling for a slide-step (the pitcher doesn’t lift his front foot as high) to break a base stealer’s rhythm. Or making sure the middle infielders get the sign so they know if a fastball or off-speed pitch is coming and can move accordingly. (This is what Mike Aviles did on a spectacular play behind second base to get Austin Jackson.) Jason also signals pick-offs to first. He has another sign that tells the pitcher to shake him off, as if the pitcher wants a different pitch. This can mess with a hitter’s head.
All this came up within the first 30 seconds of conversation. We didn’t get anywhere near the stuff he has to do after giving the signs. We agreed to talk again about some of the more complicated aspects of catching. When we do, I’ll pass along what he tells me.
And while I’m at it, I’ll ask him the meaning of life…and tell him to keep the answer short.