I’ve got a little more here to talk about than just last night’s game, but we can start with the recap. That’s not to indicate there’s a lot to say; Zach Duke pitched very well, we hit poorly, and we lose. Garrett Jones hit a Brad Eldred length home run in the first, but combined with Andrew McCutchen to boot balls in the outfield in what turned out to be the decisive third inning last night. I’m going to do a PitchFX study on Duke next week, but you should all read what he told DK after last night’s game about his late strikeout of Ryan Howard. I can quantify how much better his slider is, but I can’t capture an improved approach, which Duke certainly has this year.
I also wanted to note Brandon Moss’s home run off of Lidge. He CRUSHED a foul ball, worked the count a bit and fouled off a two-strike slider, then crushed another ball, this time in fair territory. It was a great at-bat against a good pitcher in a huge situation for Moss, and it’s exactly why people like me haven’t given up on him being a late-bloomer. He’s hitting .306/.359/.470 since May 12th. We certainly don’t have any other great options at this point.
Final point from the game last night; check out the pitch sequence from Delwyn Young’s game-ending pinch-hit strikeout (clipped from MLB’s GameDay of last night’s game):
Keeping in mind that pitches four (a fastball, so basically the same pitch as 3 slightly less outside) and five (a slider) were called strikes, this is a great illustration of how an umpire working with a pitcher’s reputation in mind can affect the outcome of an at-bat.
OK, that recap took longer than I wanted it to, but I do want to end with a word about Jonathan Sanchez. Everyone had fun joking last night about how the Pirates had reportedly turned down a straight up Sanchez for Sanchez trade earlier this week, only to see Jonathan Sanchez go out and throw a no-hitter, but seriously, one great game against a crappy team doesn’t really change Sanchez’s inherent value. How many times in 2005 or 2006 did Oliver Perez seem close to “getting” it again? I’m not trying to knock Sanchez’s performance last night; he was spectacular (he struck out 11 and only a Juan Uribe error in the eighth inning kept it from being a perfect game), the game was exciting (Aaron Rowand crashed into the center field fence to make a great catch for the second out of the ninth), and it was touching (his dad had made his first trip from Puerto Rico to see him pitch and was practically in tears after the last strikeout; Sanchez himself was so emotional that I’m fairly sure he gave half of his post-game interview in Spanish). That being said, he’s got to do a little more before it can be said that it’s “clicked” for him, I think.
And as a final note, any chance that might possibly inflict Rob Dibble or Bob Costas on me at any moment in time is just too big of a risk to flip on, no matter how good the rest of its programming might be.