McDaniel: Pitching yourself into a jam

From Rachael McDaniel at Baseball Prospectus on June 13, 2018:

On Saturday, the Orioles were playing the Blue Jays, and they were losing just as they had lost the previous two games of the series, just as they had lost 43 of the 62 games they’d played in the season. Losing has become a familiar habitude for the Orioles lately. And here, another loss seemed to be making itself inevitable: After rallying back late from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 3-3, the Jays had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th. There were two outs.

It was up to reliever Mychal Givens, who had created this mess in the first place, to get that final out. After striking out Teoscar Hernandez to start the inning, Givens issued a five-pitch, not-even-close walk to Justin Smoak, then a single to Kendrys Morales. He got Kevin Pillar to fly out quickly, giving a moment of reprieve.

Then he hit Randal Grichuk, batting .157 with a .627 OPS, to load the bases. Luke Maile came up to the plate, and I knew what was going to happen. Not just what I wanted to happen—I wanted the Jays to win, of course—but the specific and inevitable outcome. Givens had been fighting his command all inning. I felt like I knew, and I felt like he knew, what was about to happen. He needed to throw strikes, and he couldn’t throw strikes.

If it wasn’t obvious on Givens’ first pitch to Maile, it became obvious on the second. It became even more obvious on the third. Four straight balls, and the Jays had won. Justin Smoak trotted slowly home. The Jays, elated at finally having put together a modest winning streak after their miserable May, swarmed around home plate, celebrating Maile’s heroism; Givens, eyes downcast, face devoid of feeling, disappeared into the clubhouse.

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Originally published: June 13, 2018. Last Updated: June 13, 2018.