Game 32 Recap
No one expects a Game 32 recap!
I don’t know if it was the drizzle, the “12,614” fans, or the fact that this game featured the Orioles, but it was tough to get into. A fairly crisp (if predictably offense-free) start turned ugly in the 6th, but a win’s a win.
* I never understood why David Hernandez wasn’t in Baseball America’s top 10 Orioles prospect rankings. His minor league K rates were great, and BA admitted he had the best slider in the organization. So how could Kam Mickolio be rated higher? Some said it was his lack of a change-up, but compared to Kam Mickolio, Hernandez is as polished as Greg Maddux. Others said it was that he was prone to lapses in concentration. That always seemed suspicious to me, but I think I get it now.
Hernandez was down 2 in the 6th and the rain had made the mound a bit muddy. He seemed to struggle with his landing foot and walked Josh Wilson on pitches that were nowhere near the strike zone. 2 outs, Josh Wilson on first, Ken Griffey Jr coming to bat. You could find the run expectancy for an average situation like that, but taking the specific players into account, I’d put it – charitably – at about 0. *Rob Johnson was in the hole.* Hernandez, though, lost the plot. He walked Griffey, tossed in a wild pitch, gave up a line drive single to Johnson (figures that he found the plate again with an M’s catcher hitting), and that was that. This game should’ve been closer, but I’ll admit I’m glad it wasn’t.
* Rob Johnson is unquestionably a better hitter at this point than Griffey. That’s not hyperbole, that’s a simple statement of fact that illustrates why The Nap doesn’t matter.
* In the 5th, the M’s loaded the bases with 2 outs, and Hernandez walked Ichiro to get to Chone Figgins. At one point in his AB, Figgins squared to bunt. One thought came to my mind: awesome. 2 outs, force anywhere, and Figgins thought the percentage play was a bunt. That’s the 2010 offense in a nutshell.
* Brandon League just doesn’t seem like the pitcher I thought we were acquiring. That’s not League’s fault, and it’s not Zduriencik’s; I just need an adjustment period. I thought we were getting a dominant strikeout pitcher, with moderate-to-questionable command and a great splitter. Instead, we got a command/GB reliever whose sinking fastball may be his best pitch. League came in with 2 on and 1 out in the 8th, facing Miguel Tejada. Jeff’s already recapped the AB here, but it really was a thing of beauty. People have been wondering (and I’m definitely one of them) why he doesn’t throw his deadly splitter more, but after seeing that AB, I’m not sure I care anymore. Those were 4 pitches with Brandon Webb-level sink and mid-90s velocity. Oh, and he’s walked 2 hitters in his last 10 appearances, covering 46 batters.
* Cliff Lee is really good. The strikeout of Wigginton with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out cut the Orioles’ win expectancy by 9 percentage points. The Wieters at-bat that followed had an even higher leverage index, and Lee induced an easy ground ball with a well-placed change. Cliff Lee is very good at what he does – he’s able to miss bats when he wants to, and he’s seemingly able to get GBs when they’re called for.