Just "True 'dat!" stuff.
I didn't see the tater, but I thought Pax looked easy, fluid, had a yakker and threw 94 located in the bottom of the zone. Over 32 starts, that equals about 16 wins. Or maybe its 17? Ah, make it 16-8, just to be safe.
We'll get the 18-4 next year.
During the game, I thought MAN! ... How could one pitcher miss with so many fastballs IN THE SAME SPOT!?
K-Pax was right over the plate, but consistently low, or that was the best I could tell from the weird camera angle. Seriously, out of 75-80 pitches he must have thrown 20, I am saying twenty, pitches, right down the pipe -- but shin-high. Whaaaa? ... ? Never in 92,734 games has Dr. D seen this phenomenon.
Like they say, in baseball you see something new every day. Was Paxton flopping over his leg and releasing the ball late? Or what?!
Only after seeing the GameDay did we realize that the joke was on me, and it was definitely thanks to Joe Blue, curse his black soul. From the MLB Game Day, here's the first batter:
That second pitch, amigo, that is one whale of a bad attitude by a spring training ump. It's the opening shot in a smirking-style declaration of hostilities.
You've got to grok the fact that James Paxton is coming WAYYYY over the top, probably more than any left-hand pitcher currently in baseball. Meaning? ... that ball was IN the strike zone until (maybe) that very last microsecond when it NICKED the knees.
If you just joined us, an umpire is supposed to go out there wanting -- their term is "ready" -- to call strikes. If the pitcher doesn't muck the game up, the ump is supposed to move the game along. He has to go out of his way to push that second pitch out of the strike zone.
The ump was just gettin' loose. Here's batter two:
First-pitch fastball? What say you? ...
Remember the strike zone is a bit of an oval. If there's a SKOSH of doubt about whether the (DOWNHILL) pitch dropped jusssst below the knees, you take into consideration that it did split the plate. Remember that in 1861*, the purpose of the strike zone was to allow the batter to reach the pitch with his bat, and prevent the one-bouncers and stuff. Can Abreu "reach" that second pitch? It's right there!
Pitch two looks more clear, but: that pitch also came through the zone. Siiighhhh.
Pitch three, here we go again, and that would have punched Belt out.
Pitch four didn't miss by much, either, so Paxton wasn't wild. The point is, from Paxton's demeanor at the time, I figured he was just groping for his command. I'd never have guessed in a million years that the ump was tormenting him. Dr. D had absolutely no clue what was going on. (Fill in your own punch line on that last.)
This went on Alll Game Lllooonnng ... did Paxton get blown up? Neh, in the first inning the Giants parlayed a seeing-eye ground ball, a Willie Bloomquist error and a sac fly into an earned run and an unearned run.
In case Dr. D hasn't been heavy-handed enough for you, here is the leadoff batter in the second. That first-pitch strike? I'll take a million of 'em. Especially to open the inning. Especially first time around the order. It's a bread-and-butter Cy Young pitch:
Nope. Ball One. And then with the count 1-1, rather than the 0-2 it should have been, Perez gave the Giants their other run off Paxton.
From there, K-Pax did a nice job of damage control, 4 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. We'd been ready to write up a "25% lousy starts" postgame, but in reality Paxton did pitch well.
Fernando Rodney replaced Paxton and got thrown out of the ballgame. Mike Blowers: "First time I've ever seen that in a spring training game." Ever!
Tom Wilhelmsen came in and gave up five (5) earnies, in 0.1 IP. The fielding was brutal. The field was brutal. The sky was brutal. The wind was brutal. The umpire was Brutal.
SSI will be only too glad to file a Paxton start as a bummer, kiddies, if that's what occurs. But! on this one you gotta look closer. Considering it was an "off day" it was a pretty sweet job of taking each gutpunch, stepping back onto the rubber, and executing his best pitch the next time.
He's got 1 walk all spring, and between his "A Game" starts and "B Game" starts, James Paxton looks like a rotisserie Best Bet.
On the postgame, by the way, Paxton was as chill as he was during the first 4 IP. Said his goal was to work on first-pitch curve ball strikes. Just so!
Rainbows and ponies,
Just "True 'dat!" stuff.
Looks like you're not the only one unhappy with how that ump was squeezing Paxton early in that game. From Divish's blog today:
McClendon didn’t like Hamari’s strike zone from the beginning and let him know about it.
“I thought he was not very sharp yesterday,” McClendon said. “Maybe that ticked him off a little bit. It was awful tight to say the least.”
That tight zone didn’t do James Paxton any favors.
“I went out in the first inning and said, ‘This guy is a ground ball pitcher, he works down in the zone and you missed about seven pitches in the first inning. What gives?’” McClendon explained. “And he said, ‘Those balls are low,’ and I said, ‘You need to take a better look at them because they aren’t as low as you think they are.’”
Another money quote from McClendon. I think I'm going to like this guy.
The game yesterday was a spring training slog fest that went four hours and featured plenty of errors and bad baseball. It wasn’t much fun for anyone to sit through.
“And then I said, ‘I’m going to go out there and try and get myself kicked out so I can get the hell out of here,” McClendon joked. “But that part didn’t work. So I had to sit through that four hour game.’”
Use the word "seven" in a sentence, Susie ... gooood example.
Thanks for the corroboration amigo. That's USDA Choice that McClendon was seeing this happen, with such conviction, in real time. Never heard that in 37 years post-Piniella.