Scott Baker’s overall decent start against the Yankees on Monday night was defined by two bad pitches to two great hitters. I’ve taken four screen captures of each home run to show how Baker’s miss with the intended pitch location led to the Yankees’ home runs and eventual win (click on the images for a larger version).
Alex Rodriguez’s Home Run
Frame 2 – Baker delivers and the ball is headed for the outside part of the plate, however it’s mid-thigh high instead of knee-high. Mid-thigh high is a much more dangerous location, especially once you get to frame 3…
Frame 3 – The movement on the pitch has taken it from the outside part of the plate, across the middle, and moving towards the inside part of the plate. Pitches that are middle-in, mid-thigh high lead to the type of contact you see in frame 4.
Frame 4 – As you can see by the final location of Mauer glove behind A-Rod’s bat, the pitch didn’t end up anywhere close to the originally intended location. Sometimes a pitcher gets away with that type of miss. However, the odds of getting away with middle-in, mid-thigh high pitch to a hitter like A-Rod are much lower. On this night, Baker wasn’t able to get away with it.
Jorge Posada’s Home Run
Frame 1 – Mauer’s calling for the pitch to be middle-in, knee-high to Posada. As the pitch is delivered, Nick Swisher, the runner on first, is attempting a steal. You’ll see Mauer slightly rise out of the crouch over the course of the four frames in anticipation of making a throw.
Frame 2 – The pitch starts out inside. However, like the pitch to A-Rod, it’s mid-thigh high instead of knee high
Frame 3 – Again, like the pitch to A-Rod, the ball begins to move across the middle of the plate, making it the perfect type of pitch to be hammered for a home run.
Frame 4- You can see where Posada makes contact and where Mauer’s glove ends up. The original location was middle-in, knee-high. This pitch is hit by Posada when it’s thigh-high to belt-high, almost dead-center of the plate.
Obviously most pitchers are going to make mistakes during a game, and Baker is no exception. These two pitches to A-Rod and Posada show how important it is to either (a) not miss location on pitches; or (b) miss to the right hitters or in the right count. This is especially true for Baker, who is a fly ball pitcher. Baker left these two pitches up and over the plate and, as a result, lost the game.