The Closer: Inside (the park) edition

May, 20, 2010
5/20/10
4:37
AM ET
Hit Tracker
- Mets outfielder Angel Pagan's 4th-inning inside-the-park home run against the Washington Nationals traveled 396 feet and hit the center-field wall. Despite being a solid shot, only Coors Field's friendly confines (and atmosphere) would have yielded an out-of-the-park home run.

- The longest home run of the night came off the bat of Arizona's Adam LaRoche, whose second shot of the game traveled 435 feet to center field. Surprisingly, the blast wouldn't have been a home run in every MLB park. The cavernous center field of Minute Maid Park in Houston would have gobbled it up.



Why Tigers Starter Justin Verlander Won:
- Controlled the count. Verlander only went to a 2-0 count once in Wednesday's game against Oakland. It was to Daric Barton in the bottom of the seventh inning who then flied out to center on a 2-2 pitch.
- Finished off Athletics hitters efficiently. Verlander retired 15 of 19 A's hitters with two strikes (78.9%), including five strikeouts.
- Used his fastball early and often. Verlander threw 25 first pitch fastballs to the 30 batters he faced, and 21 of them were strikes. Oakland hitters only swung at one first pitch fastball all night, a third-inning pitch Adam Rosales flied out on.


Why Red Sox Starter Clay Buchholz Won:
- Deadly with two strikes. Buchholz held the Twins to 1-13 (.077) in two-strike counts, and seven of the Twins 14 plate appearances that reached two strikes ended in a strikeout (50.0 K pct). Buchholz especially controlled Minnesota hitters with the slider in two-strike counts, holding Twins hitters to 0-5 and four strikeouts on the pitch.
- Started innings strong and maintained efficiency. Buchholz retired seven of the nine leadoff men he faced, and ended 15 of 28 (53.6%) plate appearances against him in three pitches or less (MLB avg - 47%). Buchholz also went to a three-ball count only four times all game, holding the Twins to 0-3 and one walk.
- Grounded the Twins. Buchholz recorded 11 of his outs on groundouts, tied for his second-highest total this season. Buchholz also recorded seven outs on groundballs from the fifth to the seventh inning, with only a Justin Morneau single preventing them from being consecutive. The batter after Morneau (Michael Cuddyer) grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.


Why Marlins Starter Anibal Sanchez Won:
- Retired the first batter of the inning in all seven innings pitched.
- Hitters were 1-10 against the slider (opp BA against slider is now .098).
- 76 percent of sliders went for strikes (MLB average: 63 percent).


Looking Ahead
- Clayton Kershaw has held the Padres to a .186 batting average since the start of the 2009 season, but has been especially good against San Diego lefties, who are just 1-17 against him. Lefties do not have a single well-hit ball against Kershaw (0-for-17). Also, he's allowed just six hits in 39 at-bats when he is ahead in the count.

- Alfonso Soriano is scheduled to face Joe Blanton on Thursday, a pitcher he’s had success against in his career (5-14, 2 extra-base hits). Soriano has been hot in May, batting .357 with four home runs while Blanton has struggled in three starts since coming off the DL (1-2, 5.49 ERA). Opponents have jumped on Blanton’s first pitch (6-14, 2 HRs), a count Soriano has feasted on this season (6-11, HR, 2 doubles).

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