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Gettin' Ziggy With It (Vol. 23)

Hello again! Our regular season has come to an end, and we are preparing to open up the playoffs tonight in Salt Lake City in the first game of a best-of-5 series. The last couple of weeks, we had been matching Tucson win-for-win and loss-for-loss and held a 5 game lead with 5 games to play. We had one more game at home, and then we were heading to Tucson for the last 4 games. We wanted badly to clinch the division at home, but we lost a heartbreaker to Colorado Springs, 3-2 in 12 innings.

Our first night in Tucson (up 4 games with 4 to play), we played a game characteristic of our "Scratch & Claw" clubhouse motto. Trailing 2-0 after the 1st, we came back and tied the game in the 4th. In the bottom of the 4th, we allowed a couple of home runs that put us down, 5-2. But in the top of the 7th, Jeremy Brown hit a CLUTCH 3-run homer to tie the game, and Danny Putnam singled home the go-ahead run in the 8th to put us up, 6-5. Then our bullpen nailed down the game, setting off our division-clinching celebration. It was an exciting time. This is the 4th straight year I’ve been on a team that has celebrated either a division title or a league championship.

After clinching the title, we were able to relax and reeled off 3 more wins in Tucson to finish the season on a great note. Our last 2 games were started by pitchers called up from Stockton to help us save a couple of our starters for the playoffs. And both of them were OUTSTANDING. Brad Davis threw 7 shutout innings on Saturday night, allowing 6 hits. Then, in our season finale, Andrew Bailey threw 6.2 innings without allowing a hit and ended up with 8 innings, 3 hits, and 1 run allowed. They both did tremendous jobs in their first upper-level experience.

I finished the season throwing the ball pretty well. In the last month of the season (including the 1 inning I pitched in September), I threw 15.2 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 earned runs.

Since the last GZWI...
River Cats record: 10-5
My stat line: 6 G, 2-0, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 K, 2 BB

River Cats record: 84-60 (PCL Pacific Southern Division Champions!!)
All-level Cumulative: 12-3, 2 SV, 2.41 ERA, 78.1 IP, 26 R, 21 ER, 65 H, 62 K, 18 BB

AAA stats: 8-3, 2.96 ERA, 54.2 IP, 20 R, 18 ER, 46 H, 44 K, 14 BB
AA stats: 4-0, 1 SV, 1.14 ERA, 23.2 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 19 H, 18 K, 4 BB


I've been following your progress all year, and I hope you get a chance at making the 40-man and getting a cup of coffee in September, you've been Death to RH hitters. Lefties, however, are pounding you at a .408 clip. What's the plan for getting the port-siders under control? -- grover

Well, I’ve worked really hard at this. My AAA numbers were blown up against lefties back in early June when I gave up 9 hits and 6 runs in 2.2 innings (over 2 outings) against Tucson – and I think all 9 hits were by lefties, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t want to be known as a guy who absolutely can’t get lefties out. And I think it showed in my numbers the last couple months. I was able to get their BAA down to .349 by season’s end. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments, and I now feel confident I can have success against any hitter, no matter what side of the plate they hit from.

3 questions from Colorado Fan ...
1. It seems like "Pitching-Inside" is a lost art form in the game today. How much does the organization as a whole emphasis pitching-inside to help set up the outside corner/change-up, etc.?
2. Do you ever intentionally aim at a batter’s hip/knee/lower leg, so a batter can't just "dig-in" on you...knowing the batter will have to move their feet a little bit?
3. Have you ever been asked/told by a player/coach/manager to hit a batter on purpose - whether it be H.S., College, Summer League, Minors, etc...? Is there ever a place in the game for something like that? Thoughts on protecting your STAR Players, etc.

  1. I think everyone emphasizes it, but it’s a very difficult thing to master. A baseball great (I won’t say who so it doesn’t sound like I’m name-dropping) once told me: "You pitch inside for effect, not for strikes. You get hitters out on pitches away, but you gotta keep them from diving out there and hitting those pitches." I think it’s very true.
  1. Most definitely.
  1. Yes and yes. I’m not wild and crazy about hitting guys intentionally, but I do think you need to protect guys on your own team, whether they’re a star or not. My only major rule: NEVER intentionally throw at a guy’s head. That’s taking a risk on killing him, and the risk isn’t worth it. Knocking a guy down, or hitting him in the ribs/back is one thing...trying to hurt him is another.

Have you ever been brought in to face a right-handed batter, sent to the outfield while a RHP comes in to face a lefty batter, then brought back to the mound (no extra warmups) to face another righty? Do you think your manager would ever consider it? Are your outfield skills good enough to play there for a batter or two, especially considering Jay Marshall or some other GB pitcher might be the other half of your pitching platoon? -- ervance

No. I think I could play OF for a batter or two and not embarrass anyone, but I’ve never been asked to do it. I did play OF in a couple innings late in games in collegiate summer ball when we were out of position players. And I had a college pitching teammate who played OF for a batter or 2 one game in a situation like you were describing, but I’ve never been involved in it.

Have you ever been charged before (at any level)? If so, did you intentionally hit the batter or provoke his charging somehow, and who won? -- JJ

This reminds me of something I 've always wondered Brad. Have you ever been involved in a bench clearing brawl? I use the word "brawl" in a very general way. They always crack me up. It always seems that two guys from opposing teams have a few words because they are angry for whatever reason and then both teams end up milling around together on the field. It just strikes me as odd because there is almost never any actual fighting....which is good. My question is, have you ever found yourself standing around out there wondering what is going on only to end up in an extended conversation with one of the other team members? Maybe exchanging numbers or arranging to meet up after the game for dinner or something? -- alox

I’ve never been charged. But I’ve been involved in a couple bench-clearing incidents. Only one of them involved punches thrown, etc., and that was in independent ball. And I don't think it's ever an "extended period of time" unless it’s a serious fight. But you gotta go out there on the field and protect your teammates. I think everyone's hope is that cooler heads will prevail...every time.

I've wondered how helpful it is to a struggling pitcher when the catcher goes up to the mound. What are the usual comments you hear from a catcher, and what are the more unique or non-baseball-related conversations you've had on the mound? And how much good do you think these conversations do? -- sec119:

Most of the time, he’s just giving the pitcher a breather, or giving a reliever time to get loose. Another option is if they’re discussing what sign set they want to use with a runner on 2nd base. They also could possibly be discussing what pitches they want to throw to the hitter. The conversations are usually very productive, believe it or not.

The funniest thing a catcher ever told me was this year...our catcher at the time was hit by a foul ball, and he came out to let the pain wear off. It was a classic conversation, but one I can’t detail publicly. :-)

Do you hate the wave as much as I do? And a follow up, does it ever distract you when the wave starts up when you're on the mound? -- batgirl

I don’t hate the wave, and I know it’s popular among fans. But I do think there is a time and a place for things like that. Earlier this year, we had a pitcher make his first start at a new level, and he threw 7.2 shutout innings. Instead of getting a standing ovation when he was removed, he walked off the field to the crowd doing the wave. I felt he deserved better, but that’s just one isolated event. Most of the time, I know the wave’s done in good fun.

I hope everyone has a great week! We lost 3 of our starting pitchers in the last week, with Colby Lewis, Dallas Braden, and Dan Meyer getting called up. Hopefully we can step it up a little to make up for the lack of their presence in our rotation. We’ve been playing good ball lately, so we just need to keep it rolling in the playoffs. Games 3, 4, and 5 are at home this weekend (if necessary – Fri, Sat, Sun), so come out and cheer us on! See ya at the ballpark!