Rough GoingDaisuke got a little taste of adversity today after breezing through Boston College and the Florida Marlins. The Orioles managed to go deep on him twice, including a 3rd inning blast on a straight fastball down the heart of the plate by Jon Knott and another deep shot off a similarly flat and centered pitch in the 4th by Jason DuBois. Neither of those players is a quality Major League batter, but in the Major Leagues even the fringe player can launch a fat fastball into orbit. Welcome Mr. Matsuzaka.
The more I think about it, the problem with Matsuzaka's outing wasn't his pitching as much as his thinking. If you have two players who aren't up to making the Major Leagues, like Knott and DuBois, they aren't going to swing at a good curve and they can't handle the slider. That's why they're in the minors. The only pitch they are looking to take a big hack at is a fastball in the middle part of the plate. Even career minor leaguers can hit home runs on those pitches. With those type players, trying to make a roster, you have to assume that they are looking dead red and then you show high to set them up for a middle/in change up.
Truth be told, I wasn't able to see this game. It was on very early in the morning in Japan and I have work in about an hour. I woke up to see the highlights of the action. From what I can gather from the limited snapshot of the other at bats the fastball was otherwise well located on the corners, and the breaking ball looked much improved from the Marlins outing. It looks like he K'ed Melvin Mora twice and Gibbons once. Those are decent big league hitters, so there was really some good and some bad. Better location on the two fastballs and we might be talking about a 4 inning, 4 hit, no walk, shutout. It's Spring Training.
If I can manage to see the game action on a replay tonight, I'll replace this little blurb with a more extensive analysis.