Friday, April 09, 2010

Five Swings: Mercy!

Red Sox announcer Ned Martin's famous expletive was "mercy!"

1. Tonight the Kansas City Royals honored Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke with an over-the-top presentation...if we've ever seen one. Greinke had a reenactment of his trophy presentation, and separate presentations of Taylor-Made golf clubs, a Cy Young ring, a framed Kaufman Stadium home plate, framed uniform gear and a scoresheet, framed pitching rubber, and congratulations from everyone who ever did anything in Kansas City except Frank White. And he got a kiss from his trophy wife. Hey, congrats to a guy who had a hard road to success.

2. The Sox have their road "softball uniforms" on tonight with the blue uniform top and the old-fashioned red lettering. MLB is always about the marketing, with everything from the St. Patty's day green hats to the nouveau-fan styled pink hats. Let us not forget the caps with the paired stockings.

It might get never know what kind of personal Ben Wrightman kind of items could show up in circulation.

3. Pitch sequences. Pitching theory includes a lot of elements, ranging from changing the hitter's eye level (up and down), to varying speeds pitch to pitch, working hitters inside and outside, and combinations of the above. With the bases loaded and one out, Kyle Davies went back-to-back change-ups to Victor Martinez, got him to foul off a fastball up, and then went down and in to induce a 3-6-1 double play. An unorthodox pitch sequence worked out for the Royals.

4. So much has been made over the years about the difficulty of catching Tim Wakefield. Doug Mirabelli kept a specialty job by handling Wakefield, and Josh Bard practically got run out of town for his struggles. Jason Varitek never looked comfortable catching the knuckler, but so far Victor Martinez has looked very confident in handling the butterfly-ball.

5. "Regular" season. Over the past few years, it seems as though the Sox lineup has shown consistent inconsistency, with shuffling around the leadoff spot, Youkilis at first or third, alternate catchers, and so on. But is it possible that Terry Francona will maintain a fixed lineup, as long as neither injury nor fatigue sets in? So far, that looks like the game plan. The Sox have shown some good baserunning and productive outs tonight, although they've only pushed across one run (into the fourth inning).

Examine the "run matrix" to consider statistical outcomes in the 24 'states' of baseball...
In the fourth inning the Sox had runners on 2nd, 3rd with none out, predicting 2.006 runs. A Beltre ground out moved a runner to third with one out, predicting .969 runs. Fortunately, J.D. Drew made that moot with a two run 'jack' over everything in center.

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