good adjustments by reyes and the coaching staff yesterday. he went back to the changeup, threw it a lot more frequently (often on the 1st pitch of the at-bat) and kept the hitters a lot more off balance. the last at-bat of his afternoon illustrates why that pitch is such a key for him. the hitter was kent, who'd struck out on a change in the 1st inning and hit another one weakly to 2d base in the 3d; it got scored a base hit because the ball hit the baserunner (lofton), but it was in essence a routine 4-3. so in the 5th inning, with the tying run at 3b and 2 out, reyes fed kent a couple of 2-strike changeups, the second of which was a mistake -- it stayed up, and kent scorched it down the 3b line just barely foul. you knew, after that, that a fastball would be forthcoming next; kent knew it too, but he swung late anyway and struck out, and the inning was over. kent was pissed at himself; he got his pitch and thought he ought to have handled it. but guys'll miss when a pitcher changes speeds effectively. after those two 72-mph changes, that 90 mph fastball must've seemed like a 100 mph pea.
TLR made a wise and prudent call to lift reyes at that point. it was hotter'n hell, the bullpen was well rested, and the guys due to hit (saenz and ethier) had clobbered the ball twice apiece. there was also the matter of reyes' arm to consider; it does require some pampering. perhaps most important of all, anthony's command flagged in the 5th, as he went to 3 balls on all 4 hitters. to his credit, he battled through those at-bats and ended 3 of'm in outs -- furcal, drew, and kent, good hitters all. that showed some maturity.
plenty of room for improvement, but it was good to see him pitching to his strengths again. nobody really hit the ball hard against reyes except saenz and ethier (and kent, on that 5th-inning foul ball), and three of the hits were total cheapies -- never even left the infield.
next rookie: chris duncan. he remind you of anybody? try this one on:
from that point (ie, august 8) forward, j-rod hit .265 and slugged just .337, fanned in 1/3 of his at-bats. duncan has more natural power than rodriguez, so i would expect him to keep slugging when he makes contact. . . . but he's also a less disciplined hitter, apt to whiff ev'y other at-bat once the league figures him out. his hot series vs the dodgers has eclipsed the fact the rodriguez is actually the hotter hitter of the two -- he's got twice as many extra-base hits (2 dingers, 2 doubles) as duncan this month in half as many at-bats and is outslugging the rookie by 300 points. . . . i'm genuinely happy to see a homegrown player contributing, don't get me wrong; i was as intrigued as anyone when he broke out during spring training. but it has only been 66 at-bats, and his minor-league record doesn't suggest that he can keep this pace up. put me down for skeptical.
to the farms, where tyler greene is trying to turn a few skeptics around. the 2005 1st-rounder hit two more dingers last night, bringing his total at quad cities to 8 --- in only 58 at-bats. he's only been in the midwest league since july 1 but already ranks in the top 20 in homers. maybe there's hope for him yet. . . . 4th-round pick eddie degerman debuted in short-season a last night; think he was nervous? he walked the first guy he faced as a professional, gave up a single to the second, and then threw wildly on the pickoff attempt a batter later. but he got out of the inning with only 1 run allowed and set them down in order in the 2d -- at which point he departed, apparently having reached a strict pitch-count threshold.
state college won the game.