Keep the Water in the Pool and the Ball in the Park
Well, if we learned one thing today at openig day, its that we shoudln't expect our club to win to many 2-1 games this year. The offense will need every bit of that 5+ runs per game average if they hope to be in the running for the top of the division. The bullpen is shakey and don't look now, but the starting rotation is probably going to give up a lot of HRs. In fact, each one of the six starters are strong candidates to give up 30+ HRs this year, if they were to pitch 180-200, with the possible exception of Cole Hamels. And only because its too soon to tell what he woudl yield.
Much has been made about Myers' ill-fated pitch in the 8th to Edgar Renteria. Of course, you don't want to throw a fastball 0-2 down the middle of the plate to any major league hitter. From the films, you can see exactly what happened:
Pitch one -- Barajas sets up away and Myers obliges with a down and away slider that Renteria chases.
Pitch two -- Barajas sets up away for presumably the same pitch. Myers leaves this one slightly over the plate, where it catches and freezes renteria for strike two. The crowd comes to its feet.
Pitch three -- On his 105th pitch of the game, Barajas again sets up away but Myers misses badly with a fastball that sits right down Boradway. Renteria catches all of it and hits it about 425 feet to dead center.
What really irks about this at-bat is that Myers was struggling with his fastball the most in the 8th, throwing a few off the outside of his hand that came in high and off the third-base side of the plate. His called third-strike to Criag Wilson was a nasty slider. The flyball Kelly Johnson hit to deep center was a fastball also out over the plate. So, the signs were there, but if Manuel is guilty of anything, its trying to squeak by in the 8th to avoid going to more than one reliever. In the grand scheme of things, managers make this call nearly every game so it can hardly be laid anyone's feet except for fatigue.
As far as pitching goes, the most telltale moment was not this HR nor the one Madson delievered, it was the first one, to Brian McCann. Here's what happened:
-Chipper Jones draws his second walk of the game in two at-bats, this time on 4 pitches. Myers misses outside twice, not by much, and is visably upset.Barajas motions for him to calm down. Myers throws a third fastball outside and seems to expect it to miss. This was the catcher's call and the pitcher seemed to have other ideas. Barajas flashed 1 finger away and Myers did not shake him off. Myers paces around slowly before throwing ball four, on what lookslike a high change-up. Bad sign.
-Andrew Jones takes a slider low and away and then another slider, maybe a curveball, outside and Myers again walks around grousing, oviously frustrated and uncomfortable. He then comes back with a fastball away that Jones pops straight up. That ball should have probably landed in Ashburn Alley, knowing Jones, but instead is an out.
-After a pickoff throw to first, Myers drops a slider low and inside to McCann who golfs it into the seats. His first time up, McCann took two pitches, one inside, one outside, before taking a pitch out over the plate to dead center (off Rowand's glove).
Again, major league hitters are major league hitters for a reason, but its hard not to think that Myers was guilty of losing focus -- again. Its the single most important thing that the New Brett Myers has to get rid now that the extra pounds are gone. Those lapses, as Tom over at Swing & A Miss will tell you, are the only thing keeping Myers from being a top tier National League starter. And, in this case, it put the home team down early on in the game. He will almost certainly have games where his location will be better. But, then again, he will almost certainly have more games where it will be more of the same. He's got get through dicey innings without throwing 2- and 3- run bombs.