Friday, May 22, 2009

O's-Nationals, Birds Take It In Extra-Innings

The Beltway series starts out with a pretty intriguing pitching match-up. Rich Hill makes his second start of the year after picking up a victory in his solid debut in KC, while the Nationals send 22 year-old right-hander and top prospect Jordan Zimmermann (6.27 ERA, 5.71 tRA) to the mound. The game also features three of the top average hitters in the game with Christian Guzman's .373 BA placing him fourth, Adam Jones' .364 seventh, and Ryan Zimmerman's .353 ninth. Overall, Washington comes into the game with the major's worst record at 12-28 and the Orioles are third worst at 16-25.

In more general news, the O's have released Adam Eaton (it was expected, though perhaps not quite this soon). Eaton started out OK, but his season hasn't gone well (8.56 ERA, 6.32 tRA). I expect a youngster like David Hernandez to come up and take a rotation spot in the near future.

Anyways - as with last time, here's the Rich Hill's Pitch/FX data from FanGraphs:

I found it amusing that Hill dropped down again, once, to throw that "slider". It was to Adam Dunn, who fouled it off before drawing a walk. While it looks like his movement changed from his last start, the uniform difference of everything moving slightly to the left leads me to believe that it's an issue with the Pitch/FX system calibration on one of the two stadiums.

Statistically speaking , start #2 (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 K) looked a lot like start #1 (5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K). The walks were up partly as a result of a worse ball-strike ratio (46-53 after 34-54), but he also got more groundballs which allowed him to erase a runner via a double play.

All six of his K's came on the curveball, with two looking and four swinging. Hill is still having a ton of problems with his fastball command, as only 37% of his pitches (overall) have been in the strike-zone (as opposed to around 50% as the league average) and lot of that is his fastball. The Pitch/FX didn't catch every pitch in his last start - and it's not exact - but it looks like he threw around a third of his fastballs in the strike zone and around 40% of his curveballs. The curve is a great pitch for him, but it will lose a lot of it's effectiveness if opposing batters know that Hill can't get his fastball over. Despite his solid first couple of starts (3.18 ERA, 3.78 FIP), Hill still has a lot to work on before he can be counted on as a long-term contributor to the rotation.

Top 1:
  • Zimmermann retires the O's in order, though Nick Markakis did put a scare into with a drive to the track in deep center-field.
Bottom 1:
  • Guzman pops out to Huff in foul territory.
  • Nick Johnson grounds out to second.
  • Ryan Zimmerman grounds out to second, with Roberts making a nice back-hand stop and a spinning throw to get him.
Top 2:
  • Aubrey Huff grounds out to third.
  • Melvin Mora grounds out to second.
  • Nolan Reimold just unloads on a fastball over the middle of the plate. O's take an early 1-0 on Reimold's second home run of the season.
  • Chad Moeller chases a slider off the plate for strike three.
Bottom 2:
  • Adam Dunn flies out to left.
  • Hill walks Josh Willingham on five pitches, with three of them not even close.
  • He goes to the breaking-ball against Ronnie Belliard and gets a couple of nice curves over for strikes before jamming him with a fastball inside. Unfortunately Belliard is able to muscle over the shortstop for a single.
  • Josh Bard grounds sharply to short, which gives the O's plenty of time to turn the double play.
Top 3:
  • Cesar Izturis, back in the line-up, flies out to left.
  • Hill strikes out swinging.
  • Roberts lines a double into the right-field corner.
  • Jones singles to left, with Roberts getting in just ahead of the throw (which wasn't held onto anyway).
  • Markakis flies out to left, but the O's have extended their lead to 2-0.
Bottom 3:
  • Justin Maxwell takes a big breaking curveball on the outside corner for strike three.
  • Zimmermann (the pitcher) swing over the top of a breaking-ball for Hill's second K.
  • As does Guzman. Hill uses the curveball to strike out the side.
Top 4:
  • Huff grounds out to second.
  • Mora strikes out looking.
  • Reimold hits a groundball up the middle. Belliard ranges over to his right to get it, but doesn't attempt a throw as Nolan is safe at first with an infield single.
  • Moeller flies out to left to end the inning.
Bottom 4:
  • Nick Johnson pulls a single through the right side.
  • Zimmerman drives a fastball just over the wall in right-center to tie the game at 2-2.
  • Dunn checks his swing and flies out to left. Show you how strong the man is that he could take a half-swing and still hit the ball 300 ft. to the opposite field.
  • Willingham draws another walk. Hill picks him off though, with Huff making the throw to second to get him as he took off.
  • Another curveball swung and missed - this time by Belliard - for the strike-out.
Top 5:
  • Izturis waves at a breaking-ball for strike three.
  • Hill strikes out swinging a well.
  • Roberts lines a single up the middle.
  • Jones flies out to deep center.
Bottom 5:
  • 3-2 curveball on the inside corner gets Bard looking. That tells you which pitch Hill feels he can throw for a strike when he needs to.
  • Maxwell grounds out to second.
  • Curveball gets Zimmermann swinging for a second time.
Top 6:
  • Markakis lines out to left.
  • Huff pops out.
  • Mora does a nice job working a walk.
  • Reimold grounds out to short.
Bottom 6:
  • Guzman grounds out to short.
  • Johnson draws a walk.
  • Zimmerman hits a slow roller to short, but the O's are only able to get the force at second.
  • Hill falls behind Dunn 3-1 and drops a nice curveball in for a strike. Dunn fouls off another one, and takes one outside for ball four. That'll end Hill's day, with Matt Albers coming in from the pen.
  • Willingham works the count full, but Albers is able to get him swinging.
Top 7:
  • Moeller hits a blooper into short left-field. Guzman ranges out and is a able to get a glove on it, but it falls in for a single.
  • Izturis tries to drop down a sac bunt - can't - and then grounds into a double play.
  • Albers will actually hit for himself, and he comes to the plate smiling. He's less happy after he strikes out swinging.
Bottom 7:
  • Three groundouts in a quick inning for Albers.
Top 8:
  • Ron Villone takes over for Zimmermann, who pitched well.
  • Jones pulls a one-out single through the left side.
  • Markakis flies out to right.
  • Huff grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom 8:
  • Jim Johnson comes out for the eighth.
  • He blows a fastball by pinch-hitter (and former Oriole) Willie Harris for the strike-out.
  • Guzman grounds out to first. Huff bobbles it, but is able to recover in time to flip to JJ covering to just get Guzman.
  • Johnson can't hold up and goes down swinging.
Top 9:
  • Jason Bergmann, who last time I checked was a starter, starts the ninth.
  • Mora greets him with a single to left-field.
  • Reimold pops out.
  • Ty Wigginton, hitting for Moeller, grounds back to the mound. Bergmann starts the inning-ending double play. Still tied at 2-2.
Bottom 9:
  • JJ is painting the corners to Zimmermann but not getting the calls. Johnson does get him to groundout though.
  • Dunn grounds out to Roberts in short right-field.
  • Willingham lines an 0-2 fastball to center for a single. It was 96 mph, but caught a little too much of the plate.
  • Belliard grounds out to short, and we're going to extra innings.
Top 10:
  • Izturis draws a lead-off walk.
  • As Felix Pie comes to the plate, lefty Joe Beimel comes in from the pen for Washington.
  • Pie drops down a sac bunt (couldn't someone else have done that - say, Jeremy Guthrie - so as not to waste a player?) moving Izturis to second.
  • Roberts grounds out to third.
  • With first base open and Markakis on-deck, the Nat's intentionally walk Jones.
  • It works, as Beimel gets Nick to chase a high fastball to leave the runners stranded.
Bottom 10:
  • Danys Baez is the new O's pitcher, and he gets Bard to groundout to second.
  • Maxwell draws a walk.
  • Austin Kearns pinch-hits and Baez gets him to ground into a double play.
Top 11:
  • Kip Wells has a 6.00 ERA, but he is 2-for-2 in save opportunities.
  • Huff grounds out to second.
  • Gregg Zaun, who came in to catch when Moeller was pinch-hit for, flies out to center.
  • Reimold flies out to left.
Bottom 11:
  • Guzman grounds out to second.
  • Johnson with a long flyball to center, but Jones is able to run it down in front of the wall.
  • Zimmerman grounds out to short.
Top 12:
  • Wigginton flies out to deep right. He just got it off the end of the bat a little bit.
  • Izturis grounds out to short, with Guzman making a spinning throw after ranging far to his left to get to the ball.
  • Baez up to hit now. This is why I hate both short benches and NL baseball. And Baez hits a slow chopper down the third-base line for an infield hit.
  • Roberts drops a double just fair down the left-field line. The ball bounces into the stands though, so Baez has to stop at third (though they probably wouldn't have sent him anyway).
  • Adam Jones with a rocket into the left-field corner. Here comes Baez as the go-ahead run (never thought I would ever type that) and Roberts as an insurance run. O's take a 4-2 lead.
  • Markakis lines out to right. He's now 0-6 on the day.
Bottom 12:
  • George Sherrill in for the save.
  • Fastball gets Dunn looking.
  • Willingham flies out to short center.
  • Belliard hits a broken-bat line-drive to short to end the game.
The O's take the first game of the series 4-2, with Rich Hill pitching OK and the bullpen throwing 6.1 scoreless innings giving up only a hit and a walk. Brian Roberts went 3-6 with a couple of runs scored, Adam Jones went 3-5 with a walk and 3 RBI (including the game winner), and Nolan Reimold went 2-5 with the HR. And even though Danys Baez got a hit and scored the winning run I still don't like NL ball. It's not like all of the pinch-hitting is particularly complicated strategically (manager play it pretty much by the book) and it results in situations like a pitcher having to hit for himself in a tie game in extra-innings. Not that pitchers hitting in general is a good thing in my opinion anyway. Except Daniel Cabrera - that's just comedy gold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

check out comcast sportsnet's coverage of the big win last night

video is under "sportsnite"