=== Chone Gone ===
Monday night, Figgins got his two hits on line drives off vicious pitcher's pitches.
First inning Tuesday, Blackbeard fought him through 8 pitches, precisely 0 of which were centered. On the 8th, a 91 fastball that wasn't even a strike, Figgins reached out and lined it hard into CF.
This followed an Ichiro line-drive single off a curve ball that was way down below the strike zone. Blackbeard musta been wondering what hit him.
In the 4th, Figgins ripped a double down the RF line ... off a fastball that was well in on the hands, and hand-high, a quality jam pitch. Figgins pulled the hands in and just smoked it. You could look it up.
Cool that Figgy is getting two hits a night. Much cooler that he is impossible to pitch to. This is the guy we paid for.
These last four pitches that Chone Gone hit off Liriano and Blackburn, we finally get what Peter Chen was talking about that the Angels "let a good, no, a great one get away."
=== Lopez ===
Look up this one too. On the homer to left, the one that won the ballgame, Blackbeard came at him with five consecutive knee-high bear pitches.
On the sixth, he took Lopez up the ladder, a 91 fastball that was six inches above the strike zone and in on the hands. Lopez effortlessly zipped the bat out in front and lofted the ball into his patented scoreboard section.
The 7th-inning RBI was a two-out job, a line drive to center off a slider up. Easy pitch to hit. Lopez stayed back on it, taking an offspeed pitch the other way.
This is what Jose Lopez was:
- 100 OPS+ RBI man
- Questionable (not lousy) 2B
This is what Jose Lopez is:
- 100 OPS+ RBI man with big upside
- Gold-glove candidate 3B
Lopez' conversion to 3B just might make him a pillar in Zduriencik's next several playoff runs. As a sterling 3B with a 100-RBI bat that transcends Safeco Field, he's lookin' a lot more glitzy out there.
=== Sweeney and the High Fastball ===
The book is now that he can't catch up to the high fastball. At least, other clubs question whether he can. AB after AB, they set up the sequences, in order to get to their high, two-strike FB's.
It's been going on for two weeks. Tuesday, the first three pitches to him were letter-high FB's: he took one, swung under another, and fouled another back. This at only 90-91 mph. On the fourth pitch, a low (therefore tempting) outside cutter was pulled for a DP.
Second AB, Blackburn pounded the letters again, but on the fourth pitch missed a foot low. This centered the FB, and is part of the risk of this strategy. Sweeney wound up with an infield hit on this one.
Third AB, start with two offspeed pitches.... then here came the high FB. Sweeney skied it to CF.
Fourth AB, Sweeney applied the classic counter-strategy: take the high FB, make them get the ball down. He took one strike and one ball, off the high FB, en route to a walk.
Recommendation here is to (A) look for the ball belt-to-chest, if you can catch up to it, or if not then (B) to take the pitch, accept some called strike threes, but exploit the BB's and the pitches that miss low. That's not telling Sweeney anything he didn't know in Class-A ball, naturally, but we fans can enjoy the chess game.