Helping Your Opponent Win
Giving the other team extra outs and giving them extra, “free of charge” baserunners is a very good way to lose a ballgame. This applies throughout baseball and softball. Case in point is the 11th inning Sunday at Wrigley Field.
The Dodgers lost a ballgame Sunday on a bases loaded walk to David DeJesus. That was set up by a deflected double, an intentional walk to Wellington Castillo who is 0 for 11 this season and is hitting .182 in a grand total of 44 major league at bats. Castillo has also struck out 16 times in those 44 AB’s. Yet they give him a free pass. Dodger righthander Jamey Wright adds to the problem by managing to hit Jeff Samardzija—a pitcher—who is pinch hitting. Samardzija is 2 for 23 in his career and is 0 for 9 at the plate this year. By refusing to be aggressive, Wright is now in huge trouble. His best bet is to hope that David DeJesus hits a one hopper back to the box for a 1-2-3 double play or that he hits a line drive or hard ground ball right at an infielder. Instead, Wright picks and nibbles and works the count to 3 and 2. He missed badly with a slider. DeJesus took it for ball four and the Cub win.
Meanwhile in Houston, Astros starter J.A. Happ threw four fastballs off the plate to walk Matt Holliday in the first inning so he could pitch to Allen Craig—a guy who hits Happ like he’s playing slow pitch softball. Holliday owns Happ too, but the walk means no chance of getting Holliday out and it increased the potential damage Craig could do. On Sunday, Houston pitchers issued six walks to a team that hits well. That’s six runners who got aboard with the defense having no chance to retire ‘em. That’s six additional at bats for the Cardinals. That’s also going to mean another hit or two—and with those walks, the chances of runs scoring goes up because there are runners on base who do not need to be there.
Is there a time to pitch around a hitter? Sure. But those times do not come around nearly as often as you’d think based on how often we see it happen.
Offensive baseball is the hitter versus nine fielders. The very best hitters make outs two times out of three. Yet pitchers are don’t challenge hitters nearly as often as they should.
I’m not sure who said it first, former Orioles pitching coach George Bamberger is a possibility, but-- “Throw Strikes. Babe Ruth Is Dead.”