Ah, the life of a Fan. Watched Josh Tomlin of the Cleveland Indians make his major league debut against the New York Yankees. In a nice, feel-good story, Tomlin got the win going seven innings. He only gave up three hits and didn't walk anybody. That's the feel-good part. The Fan shouting at the screen part was watching Yankee batters take meatballs for strikes only to let Tomlin make his pitch with the count in his favor...that was the bad part.
It's enough to drive a Fan crazy. In Rob Neyer's blog today, he quoted another writer whose theory on why this is a pitcher's year is that major league hitters are taking strike one which puts them immediately in a pitcher's count and the pitchers are throwing first pitch strikes. Exactly. Good call. And the Yankees are the de facto poster boys for such activity. The two biggest antagonists? A-Rod and Brett Gardner.
As you probably know, A-Rod is trying to hit his 600th homer. That's one reason why the Fan has been watching every Yankee game to try to catch history. Tonight against Tomlin, A-Rod let at least four glorious meatballs (chest high) go right by him for called strikes. Two were hanging sliders. And the others were batting practice fastballs. Tomlin had a nice game. But he isn't overpowering by any means. He threw strikes and he kept the Yankees off balance. His most effective weapon was throwing that first pitch strike.
This Fan is no expert or he would be on the field playing. But golly geez, it sure looked like A-Rod could have pounded those pitches. Putting himself behind in the count on all occasions, he had to hit the pitcher's pitch, which meant lunging for outside corner strikes and hitting them weakly.
Brett Gardner is simply maddening. He never swings at the first strike and rarely swings at the second one. It seems he is always in the hole in the count, which makes it amazing how well his average and on base percentage have held up. Tuesday night against Tomlin was no different. Belt-high and downtown Broadway strikes and Gardner just stood there looking just like always. And like A-Rod, he gets in a pitcher's count and has to swing at anything close and makes easy outs.
ARRRRGGGHHH! It's enough to drive a Fan to the basement to write a blog. Good for Tomlin though. Might as well exploit a weakness and keep yourself in counts that benefit your own pitches. Smart.