Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frustrating Fifth

Those of you who braved the rain delay got to see a decent pitching duel between two offensively challenged teams. The Nats' season numbers are great, and the Reds are average, but both have been struggling the past two to three weeks. The injury bug has been the culprit for both teams, though a lesson in clutch hitting might help as well.

Know neither team was going to score much, everybody knew that each base runner would be critical. This is why what happened to Ross Detwiler in the fifth inning was so irritating. After giving up the lead off double, he went and blew away Ryan Hanigan. That brought up the pitcher Cueto, who he walked on four pitches that were not remotely close to the zone. WTF? And it was bad pitch selection too. Started him off with a breaking ball, which got away, and then tried to aim three pitches to get back ahead. It's the freaking pitcher! Throw him a strike and he'll likely roll one to second. So with runners on first and second, Detwiler comes back and humiliates Willy Taveras on three pitches. Awesome. Should have been inning over, threat eliminated. But with two outs, he tried to start Hairston off with a slider and it just missed (he also just barely laid off), which led to more missing and four and a half pitch walk (3-0 fastballs don't count as pitches, unless the batter feigns interest). He out pitched Phillips and had him way behind his fastball, but Phillips pool-cued one down the first base line to drive in two runs. Lucky? A little... but once again, the inning could have been over. Detwiler escaped further damage when Hernandez's bullet back up the middle hit him.

The lesson? There aren't many scenarios where putting a guy on first base with four pitches is a good idea, unless his name is Pujols or something. But when that player has a career OPS of .233 with zero extra base hits, you may as well let the other side have four outs. The Nats went on to lose 3-2. The young guys like Detwiler and Zimmermann are fun to watch, but like most inexperienced players, they will make enough little mistakes that will make it difficult to avoid losing 115 games.

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