Weekend BlogApril 14, 2007
Pitching Duel - Doc Throws 10
By The Baseball Analysts Staff

  • When a pitcher throws nine innings, allows six hits and only one run, he expects to win the ball game. However, that was not the case when Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman faced off last night against Toronto's ace Roy Halladay.

    Halladay responded by throwing a 10-inning complete game victory. He allowed six hits and only one run. He also struck out two and did not allow a walk. Both pitchers allowed one home run (Halladay to Magglio Ordonez and Bonderman to Alex Rios).

    This was the first 10-inning performance by a starting pitcher in the major leagues since St. Louis' Mark Mulder threw a shutout against the Houston Astros on April 23, 2005. Interestingly enough, Halladay also threw one other 10-inning win in his career and it was against the Tigers on Sept. 6, 2003. He threw 99 pitches and allowed only three hits. His opponent, Nate Cornejo, threw the game of his life and allowed no runs and only five hits in nine innings of work. In both 2003 and 2006, snake-bitten reliever Fernando Rodney lost the game in the 10th inning.

    Yesterday, Halladay - known as 'Doc' to Toronto fans - put on a pitching clinic. The 29-year-old right-hander topped out at 92 mph and threw 107 pitches (70 strikes). Halladay survived with only two pitches - his fastball and curveball, although he threw three versions of his fastball: a two-seamer, cutter and an occasional four-seamer. Halladay also has a change-up, but rarely utilizes it in games.

    In his early days, Halladay would dial his four-seam fastball up to 95-97 mph but it lost a lot of movement. In his second season, in 2000, Halladay was hit hard and posted a 10.67 ERA in 19 games (13 starts).

    The former No. 1 pick and one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball was demoted all the way to A-Ball to work with Mel Queen, the pitching coach he first found success with early in his pro career. Two years later Halladay won 19 games in the majors and had a new-found philosophy on pitching, which has continued to evolve over time. He now focuses on inducing groundballs and pitching to contact to keep his pitch counts down, as he has suffered through various forearm ailments in recent years.

    On Friday night, Halladay was in fine form. Despite an average fastball speed, he got 22 of his 29 outs on the fastball, with the other seven coming on the curve. Both his strikeouts were a result of the knee-buckler. With eight exceptions, Halladay started each batter with a fastball.

    He "struggled" early in the game against the free-swinging Tigers and threw 16 pitches in the first inning, followed by 13 and then 15. Halladay then got the heart of the order, Gary Sheffield, Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, 1-2-3 in the fourth. He threw another 15 pitches in the fifth and 10 in the sixth. After that, perhaps smelling victory or simply rising to the occasion, Halladay did not throw double-digit pitches again in an inning. He retired Ordonez, Guillen and Sean Casey on eight pitches in the seventh and then finished the game with six pitches in the eighth, nine in the ninth and nine in the 10th.

    This game was a great lesson for every pitcher or fan out there who believes you have to throw 95 or 100 mph to be a successful hurler. Smarts, command, control and changing speeds can help you go a long, long way. Just ask Halladay about it while he's polishing his 2003 Cy Young Award.

    - Marc Hulet, 4/14/2007, 5:00 p.m. EST

  • Win, Place, and Show. Cole Hamels had his worst outing of the young season yesterday, yet recorded his first win. The 23-year-old hurler was removed from the game for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score tied 5-5. The Phillies scored two runs in the inning and held on for an 8-5 victory over the Astros.

    DATE  OPP   RESULT   IP  H   R  ER  HR  BB  SO  DEC 
    4-4   ATL   L, 3-2  7.0  4   0   0   0   1   8   - 
    4-9   @NYM  L,11-5  6.0  6   3   2   0   3   7   - 
    4-14  HOU   W, 8-5  6.0  8   5   5   1   0   3   W

    Hamels gave up two earned runs in 13 innings in his first couple of starts, but the bullpen blew both wins. On April 4, Tom Gordon cost the southpaw his first by allowing two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game and the Braves scored the game winner in the 11th to beat the Phillies 3-2. Hamels exited his second start on April 9 with a 5-3 lead but Geoff Geary and Jon Lieber surrendered seven runs in the eighth to the Mets to strip him of another win.

    For the season, Hamels is 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA. He has struck out 18 batters and allowed only four walks in 19 innings. Cole didn't give up his first home run until Houston's Jason Lane took him deep in the fourth inning on Saturday despite facing the powerful Atlanta and New York lineups in his first two starts. Last year, Hamels allowed 19 long balls in 132 1/3 IP. If the former first round pick can continue to cut down on his home runs and walks, he could rapidly become one of the best starters in the league as I predicted last year after his major league debut to the consternation of a few readers.

    - Rich Lederer, 4/15/07, 9:15 a.m. PST

  • As everyone reading this site knows, today is the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League Baseball debut. More than 80 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Robinson broke the color barrier when he took the field on April 15, 1947. The event was unquestionably one of the most significant in the history of the game and the world of professional sports.

    Major League Baseball will honor Robinson in a nationally televised game this evening between the Dodgers and Padres. All of the Dodgers will wear Jackie's No. 42 - retired league-wide in 1997 - on the back of their jerseys tonight. Appropriately, Chris Young, who wrote his senior thesis at Princeton on Robinson (as reported by ESPN The Magazine's Jeff Bradley), will be on the mound for San Diego. The game features a half-hour pre-game ceremony attended by Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's widow Rachel, Hank Aaron, and Frank Robinson, among others.

    As we honor Robinson, let's not forget Larry Doby, who broke the color barrier in the American League two-and-a-half months later. At a minimum, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers should hold Larry Doby Day on July 5 when the two teams meet for an afternoon tilt in the finale of a three-game series. It would only be fitting for the Indians to wear Doby's No. 14 on their backs that day.

    Robinson and Doby were not only pioneers but great players and even better men.

    - Rich Lederer, 4/15/07, 4:40 p.m. PST

  • Comments

    Spin control? You said "He IS as good as they come." Not he WILL BE as good as they come. I see good but I don't see elite, and I don't see better than anyone else.

    No spin control here. To repeat what I wrote in the comments section last year:

    I don't think saying Hamels is "as good as they come" after one major league game is "going pretty far" (to use your phrase).

    First of all, somebody has to be "as good as they come" after one game. Why not Hamels? His track record is phenomenal, his size is ideal, his stuff is pretty electric, and his ability to mix his pitches and throw a change-up to major league hitters is special.

    "As good as they come" doesn't mean that he is the equal of Sandy Koufax or Steve Carlton or Randy Johnson at their peak. Instead, it means that he is as good as they come as compared to other rookies who have only pitched one major league game. I don't think that is so outrageous.

    In the concluding paragraph, I made the bold statement that Hamels would rank "among the top pitchers in the league in 2007 and beyond." I felt that way last year after watching him pitch one game and see no reason to back off now.


    Thanks for the comment about Larry Doby. I call him the 'Buzz Aldrin' of baseball integration, and it really hurts to see so much attention to Jackie Robinson and so little to Doby. They and the many other minority players who exploded into the majors within the first few years all deserve recognition for the challenges they faced and overcame, and if there's one negative to the celebrations this year, it's that so much of it has focused solely on Jackie. Regardless, it's nice to see such a strong effort to recognize how important the end of segregation was and how it changed the face of MLB.

    How 'bout that Cole Hamels?

    That Cole Hamels looks like he is going to be OK, Joe.

    DATE  OPP   RESULT  IP   H  R  ER  HR  BB  SO  DEC  
    4-21  @CIN  W, 4-1  9.0  5  1   1   1   2  15   W   

    Hamels is now 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. He has struck out 33 batters and allowed only 6 walks in 28 innings.