Thatâ€™s one way to mark your postseason debut.Â
Listening to the Reds-Phillies game via the WPHT Phillies radio commentary, I had â€˜no-hitterâ€™ on the mind as soon as Jay Bruce grounded out to end the top of the second inning.Â â€˜Six up, six downâ€™ would normally leave you thinking that the pitcher had got off to a good start.Â With someone of Halladayâ€™s calibre on the mound, history was waiting to be written even before he had passed through the whole batting order once.
Halladayâ€™s strong start appeared ominous after watching both David Price and Cliff Lee struggle to find their rhythm early on in the Rays-Rangers game.
Buck Martinez on the TBS coverage was throwing out the old line of teams needing to get to good pitchers early before they settle in.Â The Rangersâ€™ batters did that against Price, the Raysâ€™ batters couldnâ€™t quite do it to Lee (despite putting some good swings on the ball)Â and the Redsâ€™ batters were not given the chance to do it to Halladay.
The Reds held Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit-less and that may be something they can hold onto to give them confidence heading into Game Two tomorrow.Â On the flip side, the Phillies have to feel good about getting a win despite their batting core being held in check.
Swinging on 3-0
The most notable moment in the Rangers-Rays game came in the third inning when Nelson Cruz launched a bomb on a 3-0 pitch from David Price.Â It was a textbook case of a pitcher expecting the hitter to be taking all the way and just grooving a fastball down the pipe.Â
Itâ€™s incredible how often that approach works.Â There are valid reasons to be patient on a 3-0 pitch and to see if the pitcher can finally find the strikezone, but whenever you see the offering pass harmlessly over the plate, you get the sense that the hitter has missed out (or was pushed that way by his manager instructing him not to swing).Â
The same topic came up on Saturday when the Oakland Aâ€™s Jack Cust took a 3-0 pitch from the Marinersâ€™ David Pauley into the seats.Â After the game, Cust told the waiting reporters that he wished he was given the green light more often in that situation.Â â€œI wish I could swing every time 3-0. That’s a good count to hit in. I was trying to hit a home runâ€, said Cust.Â
With all due respect, Jack Cust would not normally be held up as an example for all hitters to follow.Â However, heâ€™s on to something with his 3-0 approach.Â Why give the opposing pitcher a free strike?Â If itâ€™s there to be hit, give it a whack.Â At the very least it would keep pitchers honest and force them to aim for a corner, increasing the chances that they will deliver ball four.
It will be very interesting to see howÂ the Rays pitching staffÂ responds if Cruz gets into a 3-0 count again during this series.
Quick note: Iâ€™ll probably be concentrating on shorter-type posts like this over the next month or so due to other commitments limiting my ability to research and write longer pieces.Â Iâ€™m sure the postseason will provide me with plenty of great moments to write about.