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slam old story

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if reyes gets out of that inning, the cardinals win the game --- right? he'd only allowed 1 base hit up to that point, and a tainted one at that --- a flyball that duncan should have caught. he was at about 60 pitches when willingham stepped to the plate; after the grand slam, he threw 31 pitches and retired 7 of 8 hitters faced. if he'd found a way to get willingham out, i think reyes could have lasted through the 6th inning unscathed.

he came so close to pitching out of the peril. something interesting happened when cabrera stepped in right after duncan's muff, with the sacks jammed and nobody out: bennett cycled through the signs and reyes never moved. bennett briefly got out of his crouch and adjusted his chest protector; then he got back behind the plate and called for the fastball. it seemed to me as if reyes asserted himself there; whatever that little pause meant, i like that they went right after the hitter. cabrera swung at a well-placed fastball, low outside corner, and got himself out on a popup. they went right after mike jacobs too, struck him out swinging on high heat. and 6 of the 9 pitches reyes threw to willingham were fastballs. he swung through the first two and fouled off the next three; the last of those foul balls was pulled, and it looked like willingham had the fastball timed. i was saying out loud, "throw the changeup"; unfortunately, he'd been wild with the pitch all evening and had missed badly with it three times during the willingham at-bat; they obviously didn't trust it. but what the hell --- better a walk than a homer. the gopherball pitch was a brutal mistake, a fastball chest high and center-in; teeball.

reyes clearly has altered his pitching style since he returned from the minors. before the demotion (ie, through his first 9 starts), he was at least trying to get groundballs most of the time, viz. a groundball-to-flyball ratio of 62-65 --- nearly even. since his return, he has induced 45 groundballs to 78 flyballs --- no more lip service to duncan's hit-it-on-the-ground dictum. he's ditched the two-seamer as a primary weapon. comparative results:

gb/fb inn era bb/9 hr/9 avg obp slg
1st 9 starts 62-65 50.1 6.08 3.2 1.1 .259 .324 .446
last 9 starts 45-78 49.1 4.56 3.1 0.9 .242 .319 .387

as frustrating as it was to watch reyes blow yet another chance last night and give up yet another big inning, leading to yet another loss, i think the cardinals will regret it if they give up on the guy. his FIP for the year is 4.48, a full run lower than it was in 2006 and the 2d best on the team, behind only wainwright. he's only been pitching "his" way for 9 starts, and it's leading to better results --- a .706 ops during that span. if he can continue to hold opposing hitters in that range, sooner or later (prob'y sooner) he's going to figure out how to limit those 4-run innings to 1 run, or no runs.