500 Words, Indians

500 Words on the anatomy of an Andrew Miller “strikeout”

(Photo by Pat Benic/UPI)

And thus begins a new journey for me as a writer. Starting today, I’m going to begin a quest to write daily. For those that have followed me over the years, you’ll probably note that much of my writing tends to be of the “longer form” variety. 3000 words is my friend, but putting those pieces together takes up a lot of my time. 

I’m going to continue to write those pieces, but on top of that, my goal is to put forth 500 words on a Cleveland Sports topic…

every…

single…

day…

That’s my only rule. This venture is two-fold.

1. I’ve written 30 minutes, every day, since I was 22-years old. Over that time, I’ve filled 50+ 200 page notebooks/journals full of writing. So why not here?

2. I want to match the hours I put into my long-form pieces with something a bit more concise, and something that I can sit down and write in one sitting. It should make me a better writer…in theory.

So thus begins a journey…to somewhere. Today? An Andrew Miller fake strike-out anatomy…and no…this lede (nor it’s sidenotes) isn’t part of my 500 words…;)12

Rarely is a baseball game won or lost on one single pitch. That was certainly the case this past Friday when the Indians lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4, after taking an early 4-0 lead. While one seventh inning Andrew Miller pitch to Teoscar Hernandez wasn’t the whole story, it certainly was the most important.

Miller’s first strike to Hernandez was a called strike on an 82.4 MPH slider on the outside of the plate. Miller was hitting corners, and Hernandez either realized he didn’t have a shot at hitting the pitch, was praying for a ball, or just had no clue. It was a typical Miller set-up.

Miller followed with a classic case of both changing eye level, and moving location and speed. Miller again threw a slider, only this one swept across the plate, down and in on Hernandez. If he didn’t swing, the 84.3 MPH slider likely would have been a called strike on the inside, bottom corner, but Hernandez did swing, and he did miss. It was a perfect 0-1 pitch. If he managed to get a piece of that pitch, it would have been a ground ball out to end the inning. He didn’t, and now Miller was in complete control at 0-2.

Miller then went for the punchout. He discarded the slider, turning to his four-seam fastball, which isn’t his normal out pitch. Over Miller’s career, he’s turned to his slider 49% of the time against righties with two strikes. That may be slightly misleading, however, as he often uses his four-seamer when he’s ahead on righties, and with runners in scoring position. Hernandez managed a weak swing, but fouled the pitch off, giving him life.

This was the perfect set-up for Miller, and bad news for Hernandez. Had been busy moving both down, then back up in the zone, but had mixed his pitches perfectly. He changed both eye level and velocity, but also had served up his fastball up and in. If he threw the big sweeping slider, down and away, Hernandez wouldn’t have a chance.

That’s exactly what he did.

Miller threw the perfect pitch. It was outside and away, and coming off of the 94.6 MPH fastball, Hernandez just stared and watched it. It popped in the glove inside the zone…and it was so magnificent, that umpire Gerry Davis called it a ball.

It was a bad call.

It was a really bad call.

Of course bad calls happen in baseball, but this was a really bad call.

Miller started walking towards the dugout. Hernandez started walking towards the dugout. 

When asked about the pitch after the game, Hernandez smirked.

“It was a good pitch. The umpire missed it. I got another chance.”

Indeed.

Miller went back to his slider, and got it up and in. Hernandez, now waiting for it, doubled to left field, scoring Steve Pearce from second, and giving the Blue Jays a 5-4 lead.

Was it one pitch that cost the Indians’ the game? I’ll leave it to Miller himself to close this out:

  1. sidenote: Normally, my Corner of Carnegie and Ontario would be published on Monday as well, but because of a lack of play this weekend, I’m going to push it back to later this week. Next week, on Monday, you’ll get two pieces from me. Feel free to pelt me with rotten vegetables at will []
  2. sidenote #2: I won’t go over 500 words, but watch out for these editors at WFNY…so wordy…;) []