Thursday, October 2, 2008

One missed spot dooms Lackey

I was watching last night's Red Sox-Angels game from the same place everyone else was -- on my living-room couch. My roommate, Tom, who I believe will double the readership of this blog when he discovers I've written about him in it, was decked out in his Red Sox gear and leaning forward when left fielder Jason Bay came to the plate in the sixth inning.

Bay hadn't had much of a night to that point. Los Angeles starter John Lackey had gotten him to chase curveballs down and away twice already, and Bay looked pretty overmatched. When Bay came up in the sixth and took a hanging curveball over the middle of the plate for strike one, Tom and TBS' Dave Campbell both made the same point -- that was a pitch for Bay to swing at.

Catcher Mike Napoli then set up down and away. Way down and away. Everyone could see what was coming, and Tom could really see what was coming.

"Don't swing," Tom muttered. "Don't swing. Don't swing. Don't swing."

It was tough to tell what pitch Bay hit -- he said after the game it was a fastball up, but from the way Napoli was setting up, it's hard to believe it was supposed to be anything but a slider away. (The fastball was coming in at 92; the pitch Bay registered 89 on TBS' radar gun.) It made perfect sense; Lackey had thrown a soft curveball inside at which Bay should have swung, and he was going to come back with something hard (a slider, probably) down and away to get him to chase it.

Either way, Lackey missed his spot by about a foot. Bay crushed it.

And as the ball sailed toward the left-field bleachers, Tom sat up and cried, "Swing! Swing! Swing!"

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