As the great Al Pacino character from Scent Of A Woman once said, “Hoo-wah!” That’s the feeling of getting that first win under my belt. I don’t really know any other way to explain it. You aren’t really in control of how many runs your team scores, but you are in control of keeping the other team to fewer runs. That’s what I finally accomplished today. Leaving the game after 5 innings and a score of 2-1, we eventually pulled out a 4-3 victory. I am still far, far away from where I plan to be by season’s end, but then again, season’s end is far, far away. So, as I sit in my hotel room with some potentially extremely delicious Papa John’s pizza and wings, let’s go over those 5 innings. Some interesting stuff happened.
1st inning: Three up, three down. 2 strikeouts. Very important to get a quick and scoreless inning there since our hitters really came up big in the top of the 1st inning with 2 runs. Good run support there. So, we got a great start here and its looking like it’s going to be a good day.
2nd inning: Another pair of strikeouts, but the beginning of the walks started. The runner didn’t go anywhere, though. 2 innings down.
3rd inning: I start the inning off with two quick groundouts and then the interesting part begins. I quickly run the count up to 3-0. Got the 3-0 strike in there, so we are 3-1 now. As a pitcher, a 3-1 count almost always calls for a fastball. You throw it in there and see how far he can hit it. Most of the time the hitters will get themselves out. The old saying rings true that great hitters get out 7 out of 10 times. But not this time. I gave him a knee-high fastball, middle of the plate. He hits it over the left-center fence. Good for him. But all he had to do was take his gift from me and run the bases. Just play the game. Instead, he chose to “pimp” it. Watching the ball sail over the fence and admiring your home run doesn’t usually please the pitcher very often. I gave him some words as he rounded second base and then moved my focus to the next batter. Next time that hitter comes up, though, as a pitcher, it is your job to make sure he doesn’t think he is better than you ever again. There are many ways to do it, I chose the way of the strikeout. But that’s later. I strike the next batter out and head back for the dugout charged up and ready to head back out there.
4th inning: No runs score, but it was a rough inning. Got myself out of a mini-jam. Leadoff walks are never good. Especially when the guy steals 2nd base too. The next hitter touches me for a good piece of situational hitting on a groundout to the 2nd baseman, advancing the runner. Next batter strikes out. Then, I continue my approach for the day to pitch inside and give Clemens a fastball in the back. But the next batter draws a walk to load the bases with 2 outs. So, I take a deep breath, refocus, and get that final out with a strikeout on a curveball in the dirt. I remember, with 2 strikes to that hitter, I told myself to throw the best curveball I could ever throw. Just about did.
5th inning: Another leadoff walk. Then I get the homerun culprit on a strikeout, but the runner steals second on the strikeout pitch, putting him in scoring position and an opportunity to tie the game now. Not going to happen. Not today. Next, I get another groundout back to me. Another walk follows. That’s 5 for the game. That walk earned me a mound visit, not only to gear me up for that 3rd and final out, but also to allow the bullpen to get warm. I am told this will be my last batter and I need to get him out and get those 5 innings in. 1st pitch, the guy swings at an inside fastball and pops out. Day over.
So, in the end we won and that was what I was really hoping for. Some highlights of the day besides the win include 8 strikeouts, which is great. I love striking guys out. That truly is a great feeling. But 5 walks in 5 innings are absurd and can’t happen again. Without those extra 20 pitches, I could have thrown one or two more innings. But we won. So smile and move on. 1 hit in 5 innings isn’t so bad either. Albeit it was a “pimped” home run.
Well, I’m going to get back to my Papa John’s since my wings are getting cold. Didn’t want to get my keyboard all slimy with buffalo wing sauce. If you read this entire blog, then I am very impressed. See you next time.