ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 23: Manager Jim Leyland #10 of the Detroit Tigers makes a pitching change against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on August 23, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
If I told you that the Rays posted 15 base runners, chased Brad Penny one out into the seventh inning, and got eight innings out of David Price who then turned it over to Kyle Farnsworth for the ninth, you would think that they had won. Nope. It's games like these that miracle late-season comebacks are not made of.
Price threw 115 pitches on the night, 82 of them (non-cut) fastballs, generating generating 8.5% swinging strikes on those pitches. As for secondary offerings, Price threw his changeup 22 times, generating 4 swinging strikes (18%), and his cutter nine times (though I think four other pitches were probably cut fastballs that didn't cut very much). He worked the outside part of the plate to right handed hitters with the backdoor cutter, and got either 3 or 5 called strikes out of it, depending on what classifications you believe. As his third pitch, the cutter is coming along nicely, although the runs Price gave up came when a frontdoor cutter to Alex Avila leaked too far back over the plate (pitch 4, Avila is left handed).
And really, that pitch is my only complaint with Price's performance. There are times when you try to trick a batter with your third best pitch (that you've only started throwing midway through this season), but a 1-2 count with the tying run on third isn't it. That's when you rear back and unleash 98 mph up above the zone.
Regardless, it was good to see Price regain his composure and mow down the Tigers in the eighth inning after being tagged for two runs in the seventh.
- There's been enough said about how frustrating the offense can be. This was one of those days. Fifteen base runners, one run.
- It's nice to have John Jaso back and all, but where do I find an Avila? I want one of those.
- Jim Hickey said that Price's changeup is better when it's in the 85-86 mph range, rather than the 83-84 mph range. Nothing conclusive either way in this game, but it's something interesting to look into.
- So that I'll be happier, I'm going to pretend that Reid Brignac, the batter, was just called up for a cup of coffee, and I'll evaluate him based on a small sample size. Here goes: In the bottom of the third, Brignac showed good plate discipline by laying off a backdoor cutter that stayed just outside. On the next pitch, he showed great, quick hands when he lined an outside fastball back up the middle.Then, to lead off the fifth inning, Brignac once again lined a fastball up the middle. He had to go down to the bottom of the zone to reach the pitch. In his second at bat, Brignac's swing might have gotten slightly long, but he looks like he has the bat speed, the hands, and the balanced approach to stick in the bigs if his defense can play at shortstop.
- Boy can Reid Brignac play shortstop! In the second inning, he ranged deep into the hole, looked the runner back at third, and still was able to throw to first to nab Avila. Then, in the sixth, Brignac started a double play by deftly flipping the ball to second with his glove.
- One previous play in the sixth, Longoria made a great barehanded pickup, and then fired a routine one-hop throw to first, which Kotchman couldn't scoop. I bring up Kotchman's failure because (a) I want to start an argument, and less facetiously (b) I think that first base defense is something we fans do a uniquely terrible job evaluating. I think Kotchman is possibly very good, and almost definitely above average, but I also think that all that most people are able to recognize is a below average first baseman. The rest of the stratification that we think we know is just homerism and group think.
- One more bit of defense worth watching. In the seventh, Longoria fields a scorched grounder, and then throws out Delmon Yong at home from his knees. Note that Young clearly attempts to break Kelly Shoppach's neck.
- Nobody beaned Young, but we did embarrass him. In the next inning, Kotchman magically doubled by blatantly running on Delmon's noodle arm in left.