I am learning Word Press

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

4/5: The No-Hit Kid

Prev. Gm:

Boston Red Sox (3-2) @ Toronto Blue Jays (2-2)
Clay Buchholz (0-0, -.–) @
Jesse Litsch (0-0, -.–)

1:07 PM EDT | Rogers Centre (Toronto, CAN)

GAME NOTES: The No-Hit Kid is coming off a disastrous spring training. So did former friend Kason Gabbard, and he shut out the Angels last night for six innings. So much for spring training. Onward!

Posted in Clay Buchholz, Jesse Litsch, Kason Gabbard, Toronto Blue Jays | 12 Comments

4/4: What the!?

Prev. Gm:

Boston Red Sox (3-1) @ Toronto Blue Jays (1-2)
Tim Wakefield (0-0, -.–) @
Shaun Marcum (0-0, -.–)

7:15 PM EDT | Rogers Centre (Toronto, CAN)

GAME NOTES: Sorry guys, real life intervened. Late thread. I see it’s 3-0 Toronto… and apparently there’s been a few blown calls? Buddy said Alex Rios was picked off second but was called safe… Ellsbury caught a ball that “popped out 10 seconds later” and it was ruled in play. Huh!?

Posted in Shaun Marcum, Tim Wakefield, Toronto Blue Jays | 11 Comments

Send friends a message from Papi

A new XM TV spot offers a parody of election ads with Ortiz campaigning for the “Every Game” platform, while Jeter stumps for “Every Team.” The TV spot and online ads are premiering this week.
Starting today, baseball fans can visit the new web site http://www.XMBaseball.com to choose Jeter or Ortiz for the President of XM Baseball, and send their friends a personalized audio message from their candidate. Continue reading

Posted in David Ortiz, Derek Jeter | 1 Comment

A look at Dice-K's first two starts

On the heels of Dice-K’s tremendous start back in the states against the Athletics, I wanted to take a look at what happened. Of course, on the face of it, it’s easy to tell: Dice-K didn’t walk anyone on Tuesday after walking the world the week before. The information below will only support that, but I want to take a closer look at what exactly Dice-K was doing.

You can click on the chart below to view it full-size. What this chart is showing us is the average of left-handed, right-handed and cumulative batters from 2007 (left) to 2008 (right). While we only have a small sample of two starts to work with this year and over 30 from last year, I’m still noticing a marked increase in effectiveness against left-handed hitters.

Last year, he was rather consistent across both handedness, but this year he’s been insane against left-handed hitters. He’s also been very good against righties, resulting in a cumulative drop, but that drop against lefties is something to behold.
Let’s look at Dice-K’s performance against Daric Barton, who shows a propensity for walking but pulled an ofer night the other night with no walks. As a lefty, we can look at what’s working so well. The following is from MLB.com’s GameDay and shows three at-bats that Barton had against Dice-K, the first at-bat on the left:

The first at-bat he threw in order (you can see the numbers in the picture if you click the picture to enlarge):
Fastball, ball
Fastball, strike
Cutter, ball
Change, ball
Cutter, in play, out

If you notice, all were low and away except his in-play ball. His second at-bat, they still stay low and away but start attacking him more inside:
Curve, ball
Slider, strike
Slider, ball
Fastball, ball
Fastball, foul
Slider, strikeout

He featured only his fastball, cutter and change in the first at-bat. In the second at-bat, he broke off a curve and two sliders before pumping two fastballs and then going back to the slider. Barton did not see a cutter or change.
His last at-bat saw Dice-K come right after him:
Slider, ball
Slider, strike
Cutter, strike
Fastball, ball
Slider, foul
Slider, in play, out

He didn’t go inside at all but stayed outside and threw the slider four of seven pitches as Barton had not touched a slider up until the sixth pitch from Dice-K, which he fouled off. He brought the cutter back for the first time since the first inning and then mixed in a fastball his fifth pitch to set up the sliders that would prove Barton’s demise.
That is good pitching. He threw eight balls to nine strikes against Barton, notorious for his plate discipline.
Let’s compare that to the first time the two matched up in Japan, when Barton went 0-2 with three walks during the game and Dice-K pitched five innings.

Unfortunately I couldn’t track the pitch selection, but here’s the order:
First at-bat:

Tries to come inside and tight on the lefty, but he’s too low and inside and walks him.
Second at-bat:
Called strike

Dice-K starts Barton off on a different plane, scattering low and inside between high and outside. No luck, results in a walk.
Third at-bat:
Called strike
Swinging strike

The last at-bat has Dice-K changing the plane again, staying high and outside before coming dead-red for a swinging strikeout for a total of nine balls and six strikes. The game on Tuesday had eight balls, nine strikes. So he threw one less ball and three more strikes. Amazing how such a small change can be so relevant.
During Matsuzaka’s Tuesday start, Barton got the bat on the ball four times (two fouls, two in-play). Last week he only took the bat off his shoulder twice (two fouls).
You throw more strikes, you get them swinging more and you’re more likely to get them out.
Please do me a favor and go back and look at both charts again. Compare the first at-bat of March 25 with the first of April 1, the second with the second and so on. Notice anything?
I noticed that the gameplan of location for each at-bat was basically the same. The first at-bat worked low, (Dice-K spread it across the plate the second game). The second at-bat varied eye level and plate width. The final appearance which was successful for Dice-K both times had a high and away feel to it.
The difference, then?
Dice-K hitting his spots. Barton hasn’t been able to get a hit off Dice-K at all. All he’s been able to do is walk, and he walked against Dice-K twice in the Japan opener because Dice-K was wild.
I’m not showing anything revolutionary here, but hammering home one very simple credo that not only Dice-K can live by, but so can any other pitcher (like, say, Jon Lester).
Hit your spots.

Posted in Daisuke Matsuzaka | 1 Comment

Fenway ranks as a Top 10 stadium

I was over at MensFitness.com earlier today (yes, I read the magazine) and they have a feature on the Top 10 Baseball Stadiums (in no order). Fenway Park is, of course, one of the Top 10. Here’s the list:

Posted in Fenway Park | 12 Comments

4/2: Put it together

Prev. Gm:

Boston Red Sox (2-1) @ Oakland Athletics (1-2)
Jon Lester (0-1, 9.00) @ Rich Harden (1-0, 1.50)
3:35 PM EDT | McAfee Coliseum (Oakland, CA)

GAME NOTES: Dice-K rebounded from a subpar start last week to put an excellent effort forth last night. Can Lester do the same? An effective Lester will mean the world to us this year, so let’s hope he can put it together today. Daniel Rathman and I are getting together for dinner in the Back Bay/Northeastern area Saturday night for some chow and for me to meet my third Fire Brander (already met Sean O and Chris C, who pops in from time to time). If any of you guys want to join in, e-mail me at evanATmvn.com.

Posted in Jon Lester, Oakland Athletics, Rich Harden | 18 Comments