walker's back, hallelujah. matty mo was back too, an even bigger hallelujah; maybe molina's absence was a factor. i only watched three innings of the start (thanks mlb tv), the 4th 5th and 6th, but i was struck by the number of at-bats morris started out with curves and slurves and cutters -- usually for strikes. matt's gotten hurt on first-pitch fastballs the last couple of starts, so he varied the pattern and got good results. of the 24 hitters he faced yesterday, 10 swung at the 1st pitch; only one got a base hit. also of note: after a succession of slow hooks, tony got his pitcher out of there at the right time. morris threw 33 pitches in the 6th inning, which carries more weight than the low overall pitch count of 79; he was in a high risk zone, and la russa did well to go to the pen for the last three frames.
on a semi- (not really) related note: Beyond the Boxscore ran a very cool article this week analyzing pitchers' effectiveness on balls in play (BIP). such a study would seem particularly pertinent to the cardinals, who almost always have "put it in play" pitchers; with the exception of carp v2005, our guys over the years have generally succeeded by getting groundballs, not strikeouts. without getting too much into the details (but i do recommend you read the article), the study (authored by veteran SABRian Cyril Morong) confirms that stl pitchers are among the most reliant in baseball on BIP effectiveness.
also among the most successful. of the 100 pitchers studied -- the hurlers with the most batters faced between 1994 and 2004 -- ex-card woody williams ranked #2 in what Morong calls "BIP wins," ie the number of wins attributable to a pitcher's effectiveness on balls put in play. (jamie moyer was first.) he also had the second lowest batting average on balls in play (BABIP), .274 -- five points lower than that of greg maddux, the king of all "put it in play" pitchers. per this chart, 42 percent of woody's value lies in his ability to get outs on BIP -- more than such famous soft-tossing specialists as moyer, kirk reuter, jeff fassero, and jose lima.
by contrast, only 20 percent matt morris's value stems from getting outs on BIP. his chief skill, surprisingly enough, is control -- 36 percent of his value lies in his low base-on-ball totals. (i never thought of him as a control specialist . . . ) that's even more true of jeff suppan, who derives 56 percent of his value from not walking folks, and chris carpenter, whose "control" share is 50 percent (not counting this season). my lone complaint with the study is that it doesn't include mark mulder, who hasn't faced enough batters to qualify; if i get a chance i'll figure out the methodology and run the numbers on him.
JD Arney of the Red Reporter got married yesterday. mazel tov to bride + groom.