Games » Minnesota TwinsJun8
Sports psychologists will tell you there are key points in a ballgame for a pitcher, and one of them is the first inning. Sometimes pitchers don’t warm up enough, in hopes of saving something for later. Sometimes pitchers try to “feel” their way into the game, not sure of their stuff.
Once you leap into speculating about someone else’s thought process, you’ve got a good chance of being wrong (I often am…25 years of marriage have taught me that). Whatever it was, for the first couple of batters, Zack Greinke had a strange approach.
He threw leadoff batter Denard Span five pitches. Four of them were between 88 and 91 mph. One of them was at 94, for a ball. Span singled on the fifth pitch, which was thrown at 91.
Zack threw the second hitter, Matt Tolbert, four straight fastballs at 90 mph, then threw an 87 mph slider and walked Tolbert on an 89 mph fastball. That’s a lot of pitches around the same speed.
Keep throwing the same pitch at the same speed, and even a hitter as bad as me will eventually adjust (it will take approximately a month). As Brian Bannister pointed out (he’s got a rule to avoid throwing the same pitch three times in a row), major league hitters do it much faster.
Whatever it was, it seemed like a weird start, and things didn’t get a lot better from there. Span was picked off, but Tolbert came around to score. That walk that scored made sure the Royals only got the tying run to the on-deck circle in the ninth inning. Without it, the tying run would’ve been at the plate.
Within two batters, Zack had caused a problem that came back to affect the game in the ninth inning. This game can get away from you fast.
We need a meeting…
In the sixth inning, Royals pitcher Kanekoa Texeira appeared to cross-up (throw the wrong pitch) Jason Kendall. The clue was the immediate meeting on the mound afterward. Anytime you see a passed ball or wild pitch and the catcher hustles out to the mound immediately, it’s probably a cross-up.
This often happens when a runner gets to second, because the signs have to change (the runner can see them). Pitchers will forget that the catcher has said that in the last three innings with a runner on second, it will be the third sign (or whatever system they’re using), space out and throw the first thing the catcher drops down…dangerous for catcher and umpire.
Baserunners at second will try to decipher the signs and pass them to the hitter: hand on knees, off-speed pitch, hands on hips, fastball (or whatever system they’re using). Baserunners will also try to signal location (assuming the hitter wants to know this stuff, some don’t…I didn’t. I got more inaccurate information than I cared for).
The runner who steals location is the reason you see catchers slide into position at the last second, too late for the hitter to be focused anywhere but the pitcher.
If a batter-runner combination gets caught stealing signs, the batter will usually wear one. I had a former minor league pitcher who caught the runner at second stealing signs, changed from breaking pitch down and away to fastball in the ribs and told the batter he could thank his buddy down at second for that one.
Lots going on out there, huh?