Wednesday, May 14, 2008

8 7 2 2 4 5

Matt came throught last night with his biggest performance of the young season. It took 35 batters and 114 pitches to get 24 outs, but Mr. Cain kept battling and kept throwing 95 mph smoke and finally (with 1-2-3 9th inning help from Brian Wilson) subdued the 'Stros. This is a lineup that features Miguel Tejada, Carlos Lee, and Lance Berkman, three guys who are better than everyone on our team, so it wasn't easy. It looked like it was going to get ugly early--M.C. needed 56 pitches to labor through the first three innings, which included a walk to the pitcher, five hits and a run after being staked to a 3-0 first inning lead. But then, with a little help from idiotic leadoff hitters, Matt got through the 4th and 5th on only 14 pitches. (What's this bunting-for-a-basehit-to-leadoff-an-inning nonsense? I love it when guys try that crap--they make OUTS come a whole lot quicker that way. I sure hope our guys don't help other teams that way. In all the years I've watched baseball, I've only seen one guy--Brett Butler--who could consistently bunt for hits. Bunts = outs. I'm surprised I have to explain this.) But back to the Ultimate Gamer, M.C. He seemed to get stronger after the quick innings. His lightning line-drive bomb to leadoff the 5th was marvelous, and he got a big strikeout after a walk in the 6th, free-swinging Tejada made a quick out to strand Berkman on deck, all of a sudden it is 4-1 after seven. Matt hit for himself in the 8th with 92 pitches under his belt, then blew away Berkman with the big heat. Lee's HR didn't faze him, nor the 2-out walk to Pence as he wasted another helpless batter with a clutch K. The 22 pitches in the 8th was his biggest total, and we've seen meltdowns at these penultimate moments before, but not last night. You want Gamer? We got Gamer. That start was all grit and determination by our young stud. We are "hella stoked" here at RMC this a.m. (Great night with the stick for F-Lew, he seems to have found his stroke again.)

n.b. Big D of GIANTS WIN points out that M.C. leads the team in SLG!


Zo said...

Not to belabor the obvious, but this was an extremely impressive performance. The line should be 8 6 2 1 4 5. Lance Berkman's "hit" in the third should have been a double play ground ball - error Bowker, and Tejada does not score. Matt composed himself, pitched out of that inning, came back strong in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, and finished the side in the eighth after Lee's homer. This is the kind of bullish determination that you expect of the very best power pitchers in the game.

Clint said...

bunting = hits. On the Giants, Velez should learn how to bunt because of his speed. Burris already understands bunting and I have seen him do it this season then immediately steal himself into scoring position.

Some guys that bunting was effective for in recent memory.
Think Florida Marlins with Pierre and Castillo. Those guys bunted like every other at bat and scored a lot of runs for their teams by being on that way.

I missed the game last night, but if it was Michael Bourn that tried to bunt, than it makes a lot of sense to see try and utilize his speed.

Lastly I remember my favorite bunting for a basehits are the sneak attack bunts of Benito Santiago in the 9th innings of a game to get on and make a 2 run HR possible.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Bunting is a pet peeve of mine. There are fast guys who could bunt to advantage, but it is a rare, rare skill, and few do it well. Guys like Juan Pierre should learn to be more selective and walk more. That would get them on base more often where they could use their speed. Also, more selective hitters improve their average by swinging at good pitches to hit.

I'd rather see our young guys learn to take pitches and make good swings rather than bunt. Eventually teams take away the bunt by moving the third baseman in, and unless the bunter-batter is a threat to get line-drive hits, that "weapon" is nullified. Bunts are important in sacrifice situations, but "bunting for a basehit" is a low-percentage play, except for a very small number of highly skilled bunters. There are a few situations (late in close games with the corner inflielders back) that improve the odds. But good fielding pitchers (Reuter, Maddux) neutralize the bunt, as well as high fastball pitchers (like Matt).

If I recall, Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson didn't bunt much, but both used their speed to help their teams win games. That's because they were good hitters, selective, and got walked a lot.

Oh, and thanks for dropping in to join the chat!

JC Parsons said...

Did Ron's comment about links get to you? Only two? I almost said the same thing, but he beat me to it.

It was not hard to see a little "Seaver" in Matt last night. He clearly did not have his best stuff yet he battled through to the end (almost). In fact, he got tougher as the game went on. We all know that is a trait of a great pitcher.

Needless to say, I don't agree with you about bunts. Do I really have to remind you that bunting results (almost always) in BALLS IN PLAY. This can not be underestimated, especially with a team that can't draw walks. Bunts also allow weak hitters to positively contribute (know any teams with weak hitters?). Bunts greatly decrease double plays. Bunting for a hit, which for players with plus speed is only a bit lower % than swinging away, has the extra long term benefit of altering the defensive alignment. YOU KNOW ALL THIS. Obviously a hit is the best "strategy" and if all your players are great hitters, bunting becomes a secondary tool (but it STILL has a role). We are so far from that situation that we MUST bunt often. Productive plate appearances are CRUCIAL to poor hitting teams. We can't hit well therefore we will make outs, giving us one or two more chances won't change that. However, one or two more productive outs every game will result in a few more runs. Considering how many one run games we play, that is substantial. You can wait for the homer (don't hold your breath) but I want to see us make something happen.

JC Parsons said...

"I'd rather see our young guys learn to take pitches and make good swings rather than bunt."

DUH. In other words, you wish our guys were better hitters. Don't we all? You must admit that learning to bunt is MUCH MORE doable than learning to become a great hitter. In fact, how many ever "learn" to be a great hitter?? By the age of 27 or so, you have your skill set or you don't. Bunting is more of an acquired well as an acquired taste.

Anonymous said...

Brother Bob:
I am in Brooklyn visiting my grandson Guthrie. (He is cute as hell.) Approaching LaGuardia yesterday I had a spectacular flyby of Brooklyn, then all of Manhattan, then the Bronx. I got a great look at the Yankee Stadia, old and new, side by side. The new one is the same shape but seems a little bigger. So although I will never go to a game at the old HTRB, at least I saw it once.
PS- Misch is a dud.