Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Game 143: Astros 3 Pirates 2

There are a number of aspects of this game that I could focus on for this recap. Ian Snell continued with his baby steps, making another pretty solid start by striking out nine Astros in six innings and holding them to three runs (even though three runs was enough for the loss). I could talk about Nyjer Morgan's nightmarish base running and outfield play but, guh, I'd rather not even think about that. There's also the bad bounce that turned what should've been a game-tying double by Adam LaRoche into a ground-rule double, sticking Ryan Doumit at third base where he would eventually be stranded. Those things seem to happen to bad teams. When you can't catch a break, you just can't catch a break.

Instead, I'd like to focus on one pitch. Ian Snell did a nice job tonight, but he made one mistake and it ended up costing him the game. Facing pinch-hitter Matt Saccomonno in the fifth inning, Snell probably didn't have a book on the guy and decided to groove him a fastball with the first pitch. Given that this was Saccomonno's first career at-bat, Snell likely thought he could get away with it. He was wrong. Saccomonno went all Jay Bell on that pitch, swatting it into the stands for a homer and the Astros first run. For the PitchFX junkies, here's that pitch from a few different angles:

By every objective measure, this was not a bad pitch. PitchFX puts it as a 95.4 mph fastball that had some decent sink and broke away from the right-handed Saccomanno, putting it fairly low and away in the zone. The result however, a home run to a 28-year-old rookie on the first big league pitch he saw, likely makes it one of the worst pitches in Major League history. Saccomanno's certainly not a hot prospect or anything. If you asked me what he was, I'd have to say, "Vell, Saccomanno's just zis guy, you know?" Thanks to one pitch and one swing, he's got a memory that all of us would kill for and the Astros have their inexplicable 11th win in 12 games.

As always, big ups to Brooks Baseball for the Pitch FX tool.