Games » Detroit TigersJun6
We all know that Brian Bannister’s smart. In the seventh inning, he showed how smart. He retired Miguel Cabrera and Brennan Boesch on a total of three pitches. Remember when I talked about one-pitch leadoff at-bats and how they put the on-deck hitter in a hole he didn’t create?
Brian knew Carlos Guillen would have to take a couple of pitches just to extend the inning. Bannister poured a 91 mph four-seam fastball and an 89 mph four-seam fastball in for called strikes. Four-seamers are straight, two-seamers move. Four-seamers are used when the pitcher wants to hit a particular spot…or when the pitcher knows the hitter won’t swing.
Once Guillen was 0-2 and Brian knew he’d have to swing, he dropped a 79 mph curveball on him. That resulted in a groundball back to Bannister.
(Actually, I’ve got no clue if either of them was thinking any of this, but I bet they were. Reading the situation and anticipating what’s going to happen next is one of the chief pleasures of paying attention at a ballgame…not to mention irritating your buddies when you turn out to be right.)
Of course, if you’re a smart enough pitcher to know you can get away with a couple of straight fastballs down the gut (some pitchers continue to pitch fine), you have to believe the hitter is smart enough to know he has to take them.
Hitting it where it’s pitched…
Jose Guillen pulled a 93-mph inside fastball for a homer in the first inning. Presumably, the Tigers were trying to pitch him inside and didn’t get far enough in. In his next at-bat he lined out to center, which tells you the pitch once again got too much of the plate.
In the sixth they pitched him away. When that happens, a hitter is supposed to adjust and hit the ball the other way. When you pull, you hit the outside half of the ball; when you go the other way, you hit the inside half of the ball.
Jose was still in pull mode; he hit the outside half of an outside pitch (kind of like trying to punch someone who’s standing around a corner) and hit a weak grounder to third. When the pitcher can get you reaching for the ball, it’s hard to hit it with any authority (unless you’re named Vladimir Guerrero…so change your name immediately).
I once again watched the game with Steve Palermo, about as good a baseball-watching companion as you can find (although I’m not sure what HE gets out of the deal). We talked about a lot of stuff including: how good a catcher Jason Kendall is and how there are fewer great defensive catchers since everyone is caught up in offensive numbers, and how getting steroids out of the game has made pitching and speed more important.
(Speed the talent, not speed the drug.)
Wood vs. Damon…
Blake Wood had a runner on first and two outs when Johnny Damon came to the plate. He walked him on five pitches. Steve pointed out that Blake needed to be aggressive with Damon since Ordonez was on deck and Cabrera was in the hole. It’s smart to go after the guy who might hit a single; the other two guys can put up runs in bunches.
You’re kidding me…
Saturday night, Jason Kendall and I discussed getting together Sunday morning to talk about catching. I asked what time and he said, “Well, I get here at 8:30.” That’s for a 1:10 start. That’s the kind of influence I hear he’s having in the clubhouse. If everyone else is getting there early to prepare and you waltz in at the last minute, it’s going to stand out like a sore thumb.
We ended up calling it off for now, because he had to go over the Minnesota hitters and put together a game plan for attacking their weaknesses. If you walk into a big league clubhouse at the right (or wrong) time (which I did), you can see the hitters watching videotape of the pitchers they’ll face and how they can be beaten.
Same for the pitchers: when you see a game, you’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.