Results tagged ‘ Matt Torra ’
Although the Tides were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the day when Pawtucke won, they engaged the Durham Bulls in a very entertaining, very well-played game last night. I don’t really think that’s unusual, nor is it unusual that the Tides won 3-1.
For the first six innings, the dominant feature was a slow ground ball Steve Tolleson hit into the hole between shortstop and third base. Third baseman Brooks Conrad dove for the ball but missed. Shortstop Reid Brignac circled behind Conrad and scooped the ball into his glove only to have it roll out while he was trying to straighten up, get his balance, and throw to first. Although the play looked ugly, it obviously would have required more than ordinary effort to make successfully and Official Scorer Mike correctly called it a hit. For the first six innings, that was the only hit Durham’s Matt Torra allowed, and if that situation had continued, Mike would have been pressured to change his call and let Torra be credited with a no-hitter.
Fortunately, Ronny Paulino led off the seventh inning with a clean, sharp single to left, and the next two Tides followed with equally hard-hit balls — a lineout to short and a double to the right-center-field wall. Durham replaced Torra, and three batters later the Tides had their 3-1 lead. Durham made no serious threats in the eighth or ninth, and the Tides had the win.
But even that wasn’t all that unusual. After the Tides seventh inning, I realized that I had not seen a pickoff attempt the entire game. Neither by Durham nor by Norfolk. Neither by a pitcher or a catcher. No pickoff attempts at all. Part of the reason was that there weren’t all that many baserunners — you’re not going to have pickoffs without baserunners. Most pickoff attempts are at first base, so there generally has to be a runner on first — but when there are runners on first and second, there won’t be pickoff throws. Last night, it seemed that there were runners on first and second more frequently than usual, especially compared to how frequently there was a runner on first and not on second. Finally, four times when the Tides had a runner on first and not on second, the runner on first was either Ronny Paulino, who may be the slowest position player I’ve seen this season, or Luis Exposito, another catcher who is almost as slow as Paulino. Durham didn’t bother holding either one on base, so there were no pickoff attempts.
We’ve all grown accustomed to seeing pitchers throw to first base to keep the runner close, and we’ve all gotten frustrated when a pitcher throws over and over and over in a fruitless attempt to slow the runner down. One of the advantages — or, perhaps, disadvantages — of watching and recording every event is that you notice when things are out of the ordinary. I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen a game without a single pickoff attempt.
Matt Torra, the starting pitcher for Durham in last night’s 4-2 win over the Bulls, pitched seven innings. In the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth, he retired the Tides in order; in the seventh, he got two outs, hit Ryan Adams with a pitch, and then struck out Steve Tolleson. Unfortunately, he gave up four hits and an error in the fifth, which led to the four Tides’ runs and the Bulls’ defeat.
For each of the twelve batters he faced through the fourth inning, Torra’s first pitch was a strike — ten called strikes, one foul, and one ball put in play. The first pitch to the first batter of the fifth inning — Joe Mahoney — was a ball. While it’s amusing to point out that as soon as Torra didn’t throw the first pitch to a batter over the plate, he fell apart — giving up the four runs — that’s really too far a stretch.
But what isn’t a stretch is to notice Torra’s performance. He faced 27 batters in his seven innings. The first pitch to 22 of them was a strike, and exactly two of those 22 batters reached base. The first pitch was a ball to the other five, and three of those five batters reached base. Color commentators are fond of noting the importance of first-pitch strikes — although I really doubt the difference is as great as Torra’s performance last night would suggest.