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The Incredible Hurk!

by Matt Smith

European baseball fans will have “one of our own” to cheer on this evening. Rick Vanden Hurk takes the mound for the Marlins against the Reds in just under an hours time (18.05 BST). The twenty-two year old Dutch pitcher was called up from Triple A last week and had a successful start against the Cardinals. He pitched five solid innings, conceded no runs, and was credited with his third Major League win. He notched six strikeouts, four with his low-nineties fastball and two with his excellent curve which is quickly becoming his out pitch. It has even gained a nickname: the Holland Hammer!

I’m looking forward to watching the “Incredible Hurk” on MLB.TV this evening and there are several other exciting match-ups to follow as well (Shields against Pettitte, Matt Garza making a start against Joe Saunders and the Angels, Jake Peavy going for win number ten against the Phillies etc). Later on, Five will be broadcasting the Cardinals against the Braves (no biased comments from Johnny though, I’m sure!) with coverage starting from 00.40. What a great way to round off the weekend!

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1 comment

Matt July 22, 2007 - 8:17 pm

Well, Vanden Hurk has come out of the game after six innings with the game tied 2-2. It was a real struggle for him, but sometimes these sort of outings can be invaluable for a young pitcher. It started badly with the lead-off hitter, Ryan Freel, getting a single and then Jeff Keppinger smacking a two-run homer. Vanden Hurk’s control was absent, unable to get the curveball over the plate and allowing the Reds to tee off on his fastball that was sitting at 89-91 mph. He was hit hard in virtually every at-bat during the first four innings and it was only a combination of good defensive plays (most notably by Cabrera, Uggla and Olivo) and sheer luck (two shots just missed going over the left-field wall) that kept him in the game.

The fifth and sixth innings were much better though. Striking out Griffey on a beautiful curve and then freezing Dunn with a 3-2 fastball, with both painting the outside corner, should give him a confidence boost to take away from the outing. As I write this, the Fish have just gone up 5-2 , so Vanden Hurk will finish with a no decision. Not a great showing, but a valuable experience for him nonetheless.


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