Sometimes a game can come down to one at-bat, whether the hitter strikes out or lifts his team with a big home run an entire season can hinge on one swing. Ian York breaks down the David Price versus Alex Rodriguez at-bat, pitch-by-pitch using PITCHf/x.
Sunday, May 1: Seventh inning, Red Sox vs. Yankees. David Price was having a tough evening, having given up six runs, but the Sox had his back and had scored six of their own. Having thrown 91 pitches in the game, Price was still reasonably fresh, but he was facing Alex Rodriguez, who had already homered and doubled in the game. A-Rod could put the Yankees ahead with a swing of the bat.
Price pitched A-Rod almost entirely inside and down, placing pitches 1, 3, and 6 (two two-seam fastballs and a cutter) in almost exactly the same spot. Pitch 4 was called a ball, but it was in an area that has about a 50-50 chance of being a strike; it was definitely worth a try.
Price missed the zone entirely with two pitches, one inside (pitch 2) and one outside (pitch 5). Both may have been at least partially intentional: one to move A-Rod off the plate a little, and the other to re-set the batter’s eye with a high and outside pitch, making the low and inside versions more effective.
Pitch 6, again in the bottom, inner third of the zone, was the last of the at-bat: A-Rod swung and grounded it weakly to second for an easy out.
The Sox scored two additional runs in the bottom of the 7th, on Christian Vazquez’s second major-league home run, but the Yankees scored again in the top of the 8th on a wild pitch to bring the score to 8-7. The Sox held on to win the game and swept the three-game series.
Ian York uses the PITCHf/x to monitor the strike zone, highlights great performances, monitors league-wide trends and tracks the performances of some interesting young hitters.
Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork.
All data compiled from PITCHf/x and Baseball-Reference.com.