CC Sabathia worked around trouble in the first inning last night against the New York Mets, stranding the bases loaded when he struck out David Wright (#59 on the season), and induced Angel Pagan on an inning-ending pop up.
The second inning did not work out nearly as well, as Alex Cora fisted a two-out, two-strike Sabathia 93 MPH fastball into right-center for a two-run single and a 2-0 Mets lead.
Two batters later the score was 4-0 as Jason Bay finally connected on his second home run, a deep drive to left center which cleared the 65 foot wall* at Citi Field.
* The fence is not 65 feet high, but being as high as it is (15 feet), that far from home plate, the fence plays much higher. I also believe the left center markers are incorrect and that left field is further from home plate than is listed.
The close call to Cora was a strike, but not called a strike by Marvin Hudson, last night’s home plate umpire. I have seen a few Pitching f/x type of images, all of which show the pitch within the zone.
But the real reason why it was a strike was that Francisco Cervelli wanted the pitch on the inside corner, and Sabathia threw the ball right to the glove.
Throwing to the inside corner on a same side hitter (lefty-to-lefty or righty-to-righty) is the toughest pitch to make in baseball, especially when a guy like Cora is on top of the plate.
I umpire in college level and men’s level baseball leagues, both wood and metal bats. When a pitcher makes that pitch to the inside corner of the same side hitter, I give that call to the pitcher because of the difficulty of the pitch.
Obviously last night’s umpire does not agree with that sentiment.
Getting that call gets CC out of the inning, and changes the complexion of the entire game. Pitchers are used differently, pinch hitters are used differently.
The entire game changes, even down to what types of pitches are thrown to certain hitters in certain situations.
But the biggest change would be that the Mets likely have four less runs on the board.
Even so, the human element is one of the most compelling aspects of the game, and Sabathia needs to slough off that bad call and make an even better pitch to Cora to get him out. There are many sabermetricians who would love to have balls and strikes computed operated via a Pitch f/x standard, but that will never work in the game of baseball.
One of the great parts of baseball are the in-game adjustments made towards the umpire and his tendencies.
Good teams adjust accordingly.
Sabathia didn’t and the Yankees lost the Subway Series.