One pitch. That was all it took to ruin young Phil Hughes' night against the Bay Rays. One pitch. He was in complete control. Yes, there were two runners on but there were two outs and young Matt Joyce was at the plate. A pitcher like Hughes should feast on rookies like Joyce. But one pitch cost him a three-run homer and the ballgame. Of course, it didn't help that the Yankees didn't hit as the tiresome A-Rod watch plods on for his 600th homer, but let's forget about that right now and talk about that pitch.
Hughes had two strikes on Matt Joyce. The second strike came on a nasty breaking ball that Joyce didn't come close to hitting. That is what you throw young rookies. You throw them breaking balls until they prove they can hit them. Joyce entered the game hitting .227 by the way. All you have to do is look at the splits for Matt Joyce to see what the Fan is talking about. Against power pitchers (read fastball pitchers), Joyce has a 1.192 OPS. Against finesse pitchers, he has a .674 OPS. Finesse pitchers throw more breaking stuff. You always throw breaking stuff to a rookie.
So the perfect pitch selection in that situation would have been to throw him another breaking ball. Like the Fan just said, he hadn't come close to the last one. But Posada put down the sign for a fastball. For crying out loud. It had to be the dumbest pitch call of the year. Joyce's eyes lit up and he smashed it where only fans were going to catch it. Three runs. The ballgame. A two game swing in the standings all based on that one pitch. That one stinking pitch.
The Fan's wife was trying to understand how her normally mild-mannered husband was spitting epithets in odd combinations. She asked the Fan why the pitcher couldn't just tell the catcher what he wanted to throw? Excellent question. The answer is that Posada has five rings and is one of the Core Four. There is no way he is going to let a kid like Hughes throw what he wants to throw. Posada is a pro. He's the experienced one. He knows what he is doing. So no, Hughes isn't going to call him off that pitch. He's going to dutifully throw it. There is no way that Sabathia would throw anything but what he wanted to throw. But in the pecking order, he outranks Posada. Hughes doesn't. At least not yet.
And so Posada put the fastball sign down to a young rookie who already showed he couldn't hit a curve and the rookie's homer won the game for his team. That one pitch lost it and it's the pitch that Posada called. Terrible.