Yesterday was my fourth start of the young season. Even though it feels like we’ve been playing for months. I came into this outing very determined to continue on the road to recovery from those first two starts and start a new streak of positive games. We lost 5-4 on a top of the 9th grand slam off reliever Luis Perdomo. A rough way to lose a game.
The Lakewood Blueclaws. The opposing team for today. Most of these guys were on the Batavia Muckdogs (short-season Phillies affiliate), which I faced last year plenty of times. With success, too. So, I remember a lot of these guys and their tendencies. It paid off, for the most part. My line:
4 ip, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 K
A good line, sure. Especially when the offense struggled while you were on the mound and you left with the scored tied 1-1. Still, I did enough things wrong to call it an above average performance, instead of a great performance. Among them include two botched routine outs. On one, my mind went blank and I didn’t cover first base. The other, not a mental error like the first, but charging a soft ball to me I slipped on the wet grass and was unable to make the play. This eventually led to their sole run against me scoring.
Pregame: I knew I was going to throw strikes today. Usually, when my pregame warmups are not pinpoint, I’m on. And vice versa. Oddly enough.
1st inning: Great inning. Quick. 3 up, 3 down. Efficient, managed pitches.
2nd inning: First batter gets a single. So what. Next batter grounds into a fielder’s choice to Lytle at 3rd. Almost an error, but he recovered and made the play. Next batter fought off pitches to earn a walk. With 1st and 2nd in the 2nd inning, you don?t want to give in to a batter and let a big inning erupt. I step back, take a deep breath. Strikeout. Strikeout. Inning over.
3rd inning: The jams are becoming more and more prevalent with each inning. Just need to bear down and attack the zone. The dangerous hitter. Leadoff guy, Quintin Berry, takes a 2-strike fastball on the shoulder. Tried to come in, but came in too far. So, with the first out coming on a bunt out, we’ve got a guy at 1st base, who will probably steal. So, I give him different looks, knowing that he likes to get his lead early, before I even come set. I give him the attention he deserves, but he steals goes for it, and gets it. His 10th steal of the year. Next batter strikes out, followed by a single that leaves me with 1st and 3rd. So, I just strike out Jay Miller. End of inning.
4th inning: I know my pitch count is getting high and nearing the 85-pitch limit. But the key is to reach 5 innings. So a quick inning would be crucial. The leadoff hitter pops out to the 1st baseman after a long at-bat. Next up, Gus Milner, singles on a pretty well hit line drive. What I needed to do was execute the fastball away, but I left it up. Next is the slip ‘n slide “error” that wasn’t called an error. Then a throw a good pitch that leads to a blooper to left field and Milner scores. The dangerous Quintin Berry is up again, but I strike him out on a handful of pitches. But, I finish him off with a changeup down and away. The last batter grounds out to shortstop. A lot of damage was prevented that inning. To get out of any bases loaded jam with none or 1 run scoring is a job well done. But, my pitch count is already at 78 and my day is over. 1-1 is the score. No decision. I’ll have to wait 5 more days to search for that first win.