October 12, 2012
Sofa Scouting: Reds vs. Giants, Game Five
Top of the 1st:
The buildup to this game reaches a crescendo with an on-camera Verducci spot, which takes me to another world, a world where anything is possible. His strong features and classical build create a confidence where even blatant lies and mis-directions would be welcomed with an earnest ear and open heart. He has me hooked with his first vocal salvo.
Mat Latos comes out of the gate similarly strong, working fast and with authority. He wants to let the Giants know that he controls the game and that he doesn’t care about their love affair with their own existence. Latos pitches downhill, with an overhead release, creating a steep plane to the plate when he can stay over the ball. He drags his arm in the delivery, with a deep pickup, but the arm works well and he has the speed to make it work. He doesn’t show a ton of fastball movement, but he puts mustard on it, and he challenges hitters to beat him. After a quick strikeout to start the game, Latos allows two singles on balls that should have been hit for singles, and he settles in to get Buster Posey and Hunter Pence on weak flyouts on pitches that could have been hit a long way if hitting a baseball a long way were easier. Latos is pitching with attitude, and the Giants look willing to swing. This is going to be fun. Tom Verducci-walking-on-a-beach-drinking-a-cocktail kind of fun.
Bottom of the 1st:
Lots of Texans on the Reds’ roster, so I’m smitten. Matt Cain on the bump for the Giants. He has big-game stuff, and this is a big-game situation, so let’s see if the carpet matches the drapes. He starts off the game with a mid-80s slider against a right-handed bat, which is interesting because I was expecting a fastball, and so was the hitter, and so was Verducci, and the world usually follows accordingly. After a quick out to start the bottom of the first, Brandon Crawford makes a bad play on an infield hit that should have been made, which is often the case with Crawford, whom I consider a below-average defensive player who looks better than he is and probably is good at picking up ladies, assuming that’s his bag. Whatever his bag, he looks charismatic and capable of evening high jinks.
Cain vs. Votto makes my mouth wet, and I can’t wait to see a battle to the death. Votto walks. Cain’s command can fluctuate from sharp to shaky; he can lose his delivery and falls out of the zone with his fastball early in the count. Early on, he seems to have a better feel for his slider, a sharp offering with good velocity and late slice and drop to the glove-side. After putting two on base, Cain returns to the slider and sends Ludwick back to the bench when his lunging swing fails to connect with the secondary offering, which has been better than his primary offering so far. Cain’s fastball has zip, but he’s missing arm-side and high. And when he locates, he’s catching too much of the plate. Cain throws a bitchin’ changeup on a 2-2 count to Jay Bruce to get a swing-and-miss that ends the inning. Really sexy pitch. It showed both fastball deception and action, falling away from the left-handed swing of the sturdy Texan.
Top of the 2nd:
I haven’t eaten lunch, and I’m getting hungry. I bought this new grill pan that creates a beautiful char, and my ex-mother-in-law just sent me some Earl Campbell hotlinks in the mail, so I’m thinking that I should char those sausages in a few minutes. It makes me think: Would I rather have the ex or the mother of the ex? Anyway, Latos strikes out Belt to start the second, going with a changeup to start the exchange followed by gas followed by gas followed by gas. Latos’s fastball looks really easy right now. It’s just exploding out of the hand. He glances over to Verducci, tips his cap, and watches his confidence grow like a flower in the sun. Another quality fastball at 94 mph and another easy popup to left-field. Latos is setting the tone. Verducci is dressed like a Roman Soldier in the Giants dugout.
Bottom of the 2nd:
Cain starts off Scott Rolen with a curveball that slurves outside the zone for a ball. Not the tightest rotation on the ball. Very loose. He seems to lack confidence in the fastball early. Cain always has the same face, good or bad. The left side of the infield makes another boot on a makeable play, which allows another baserunner, which makes Cain angry, although you can’t tell because he always looks the same. His intensity is wearing a disguise. Ryan Hanigan isn’t a very good-looking man. He quickly grounds into a 6-4-3 double play, and Cain celebrates by not making a facial expression. Drew Stubbs took a cut on a pitch while still in the on-deck circle. He pulls off every fastball, except for the one that catches him looking, which baffles both Stubbs and Cain. This game is moving very quickly. I need to eat soon.