Raising the pitch-count of an opposing pitcher is a goal for Major League offenses. Rick Rowand looks at an example of Hanley Ramirez fouling his way to a 12-pitch at-bat.
Not everything good, or bad, that happens in a baseball game will show up in the box score or on a highlight reel. But Hanley Ramirez did something on Wednesday, April 22nd at Tampa Bay that should show up on a highlight reel.
We all know that Ramirez hits the ball very, very hard and very far. What many people do not realize is that he also has a good eye at the plate and can work the count to his advantage.
On Wednesday night, Ramirez faced Tampa Bay reliever Brad Boxberger in the seventh with the score tied at five. One thing to remember here: in 2014, no qualified batter averaged more than 4.45 pitches per plate appearance.
The first two pitches were 92-mph four-seam fastballs (FF) which he took for strikes. The next one was a 93-mph FF that was called a ball, though barely, as it was just below the bottom of the strike zone.
At this point, Boxberger started to mix up his pitches to try to throw off Ramirez’ timing. Hanley fouled off the next two pitches, a changeup and another fastball. The next pitch was a 79-mph curve – the only one of the AB. With a 1-2 count on Ramirez, it was a good time to see if he would chase a pitch outside the strike zone. It ended up nearly in the dirt and well inside; Ramirez did not chase.
Ramirez then proceeded to foul off the next five pitches – change, FF, FF, change, and another change – and it looked like he just might win the battle. Boxberger exhibited very good command of his pitches. Out of the eleven pitches he had thrown so far in this AB, only the curve was nowhere near the strike zone (and it was probably designed to miss). His last pitch was no exception. It was another 92-mph fastball, this time on the outside part of the plate, and Ramirez swung under it for the strikeout. Out of his eight swings, it was the only one that he failed to foul off.
Even though the results were not what Red Sox fans hoped for, the at-bat was still a rare thing of beauty – and a battle hard fought. Yes, it will show up in the box score, but only as a strikeout of the swinging variety.
And yet, it was a good at bat.