Games » Los Angeles AngelsJul3
If you’re trying to figure out how Bruce Chen was perfect through six, you could do worse than look at first-pitch strikes. Bruce threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 23 batters. A first-pitch strike is a good idea for several reasons. Unless the guy at the plate’s hitting .501, the most likely thing he’s going to do if he swings the bat is make an out. Your defense stays alert and plays better; in this game they came up with seven outstanding plays. And a first pitch strike keeps all your other pitches in play.
When you’re 0-1, you can throw any pitch to any part of the zone for the at least the next two pitches. If either of those pitches drops in, you’re 1-2 and have the batter with one foot in the grave and the other one on a roller skate.
Chen has also lowered his arm angle which gives his pitches more movement. Whatever is getting it done, good for him.
Two for Wilson Betemit in the first inning (charging difficult balls, making barehand grabs and throwing accurately while on the run), one for Bruce’s backhand stab on the mound, one for Guillen’s long run and catch while banging off the fence, another outstanding Betancourt play and (finally) two fabulous David DeJesus diving catches.
I brain-cramped and didn’t give Blake Wood a mental mistake for failing to cover home plate in the previous game. I’ll take care of that as soon as I can. They asked Jason Kendall about the play during the pregame show, and he declined to bury Blake, smoothly moving on to another subject. That’s what good teammates do: if you have a problem, you deal with it in private, not through the media. If you deal with it through the media, at least I get cartoon material out of it.
You’re never done learning
The smart baseball guys I’ve met say they’ll never know it all. The dumb ones are sure they do. I was having a conversation with Clint Hurdle when he was managing the Rockies, and I asked him if he’d ever noticed how often a pitcher throwing a no-hitter gives up a knock and suddenly can’t get anyone out. (Of course he had, everyone has.)
I said I thought it was a concentration thing and after the first hit it was a good time to visit the mound, congratulate the pitcher and remind him to refocus and continue to do what he’d been doing.
Clint said, “That’s good, I’m going to use that.” I’ve known him 20 years and that’s the only time he’s said that. Mostly he figures out a creative way to tell me I’m a moron, but it impressed me that he was willing to use a good tactic no matter where it came from…even a moron.
So when Bruce Chen finally gave up a hit in the 7th, this moron would’ve visited the mound - or at least sent Kendall.
He’s pretty good
Torii Hunter had a sinking line drive hit his way late in the game. A runner was on first, so Hunter threw his glove up like he was about to make the catch. He was trying to freeze the runner and prevent him from going on to third. I don’t know if that’s what did it, but the runner only got to second.
In this system, I don’t count intentional walks against a pitcher. (Chen issued one to Hunter in the seventh - and I’m wondering why we use the word “issue” when talking about walks - but it’s the Fourth of July so I’ll stick with tradition.) Intentional walks are strategy the manager calls, not a failing of the pitcher. It hasn’t happened yet, but I guess I would count it as a walk that scored if it did.
Making rules get complicated, doesn’t it?
Yes, that Jerry Dipoto
The guy who struck me out about 100 times a winter is now the interim GM of the Diamondbacks. Jerry is the funniest guy I know by a long ways. A teammate in the Mets bullpen used to walk by Jerry and twist his nose and ear like he was tuning a radio and that was the signal for Jerry to start telling stories. Here’s one:
Jerry, Russ Morman and I hitting together at a batting cage and Jerry asks Russ if he ever got ESP on the baseball field. Did Russ ever think he was going to hit a home run and then do it?
Russ said yeah, maybe. Jerry said he once got it when he had a hitter 0-2, “I threw him a slider and I KNEW he was struck out. I didn’t even have to watch, I just let go of the pitch, turned and walked off the field.”
“Did you strike him out?”
Jerry pointed at a spot on the back of his head, “Line drive hit me right here.”
And THAT guy is now a GM. Good luck Diamondbacks!
(Actually, Jerry’s way smart and I expect him to do well. Or at least have the front office in stitches.)