The Four “T”s of Successful Pitching

The above picture is the answer to the following question: What do you get in a trade from a shaky start by Collin McHugh, uninspired relief work by Mike Fiers and Luke Gregerson, and a choke artist closing effort by Ben Giles?

Friday night in Oakland was like another bucket of water in the face of Houston. This one landed squarely in the face of our rejuvenated hope from the Verlander acquisition for a 2017 World Series victory. If Friday night in Oakland the best we can do against a club that is already 27 games behind and long out of the running, how can we possibly allow ourselves to go-gossamer over the club’s real chances against clubs like the Indians or Red Sox in the AL Playoffs – or the Dodgers, Cubs, or Nationals in the World Series?

I hate to admit it, but when Mike Fiers’ poor control and hittable pitches brought in Luke Gregerson to pitch in the bottom of the 7th, my first thought flew to the hope that old Cool Hand Luke wouldn’t do anything to set up a bases loaded situation. And of course, that’s exactly what happened when that poorly played ball at first resulted in a technically correct infield hit and brought punch and Judy hitter Marcus Semien to the plate.

With the bases now loaded and the Astros still leading by 7-3, it was time for Luke to dig in and do his thing against a guy he normally struck out in their few previous personal encounters.

Not this time.

Slim and trim Semien unloaded a grand slam bomb to left – and once again – and all to this point in time by homers – the beleaguered Oakland A’s had battled back into a 7-7 tie with the Astros.

And what was the look on Luke’s face after it happened? It was exactly as always. Luke looked cool as a cucumber. Like nothing had happened. Or, if it did? – So what?

Luke then did his closing the door after the horses leave the barn routine and retired the next three batters. Then he walked to the dugout to watch the rest of the game with equivalent disinterest.

The Astros regained the lead in the top of the 9th when Josh Reddick’s double down the right field line scored a sliding George Springer from first base. Sadly, the new 8-7 lead would not hold.

The stone-faced demeanor of closer Ben Giles wasn’t enough in the bottom of the 9th. Once the new Boog Powell took Giles deep to left for an 8-8 tie to start the last frame, it marked the end of the A’s’ skein of 8-runs all batted in by homers. Unfortunately, the other ways of scoring were still available to them – and they took advantage.

After Marcus Semien singled to left field and Matt Joyce walked, Jed Lowrie singled to center, scoring Semien from second base with the winning run as the exultantly victorious A’s mobbed each other on the field as though they had just won Game Seven of the World Series.

Friday night just brought home the reminder of our worst fears in graphic reality. Even with the addition of Verlander to the starting rotation, last night was an example of what may happen to any lead we may hold, any time our starter has to leave the game early for any reason, as McHugh did from the finger blister. Our long relievers come to the mound soaked in gasoline – and sometimes our hold ’em guys and closer is also vulnerable too often to the same affliction.

It is not a problem that is solved with post-bomb game faces or the throw away “that’s baseball” comment. Pitchers, especially, have to be comfortable in their own skins. Without the temperament to handle the pressure that comes from that particular talent and technique-heavy position, their success is too spotty to be of much help to any club hoping to be the last team standing tall at season’s end.

Temperament. Talent. Technique. Tenacity. The 4 T’s have to be operational for pitching success this time of year. Without any of the 4 at play in September, that pitcher, whomever he may be, is hurting his club’s chances of winning.

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Astro*Notes. With 17 wins in a row, and aided by the Astros’ ingloriously collapsing loss to the A’s on Friday night, the Cleveland Indians are now only 1.5 games behind Houston for best AL record and home field advantage through the AL Playoffs.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 86 54 .614  
2 ANGELS 72 69 .511 14.5
3 RANGERS 71 69 .507 15.0
4 MARINERS 70 71 .496 16.5
5 ATHLETICS 60 80 .429 26

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

(NO ALW GAMES PLAYED ON THURSDAY, 9/7/17)

THRU GAMES OF FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

ATHLETICS 9 – ASTROS 8

RANGERS 11 – YANKEES 5                 

MARINERS 4 – ANGELS 3

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 526 185 37 4 22 .352
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 439 141 22 4 15 .321
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 527 168 25 1 24 .319
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 435 138 30 3 13 .317
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 342 106 18 1 20 .310
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 525 162 47 6 25 .309
6 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 563 173 40 4 20 .307
7 JOE MAUER MIN 451 138 32 1 6 .306
8 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 540 164 33 0 31 .304
9 JEAN SEGURA SEA 461 139 28 2 8 .302
10 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 474 141 25 0 31 .297
RANK OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
14 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 399 117 27 0 21 .293
17 YULI GURRIEL HOU 469 136 36 1 17 .290
22 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 479 136 33 5 16 .284

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

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