In the first edition of what I've just now decided will be a series, we watched Yan Gomes snipe Avisail Garcia at first. Today, we're going to take a close look at one of the few bright spots for the Indians on Sunday: Francisco Lindor's double to lead off the top of the fourth inning. I'm stretching the definition of "play", here, but I think we can all agree that an at-bat can count as a play. It's not like I'm trying to cram 8 1/2 minutes of tape into a 30-40 second highlight.
Let's take it pitch by pitch.
Pitch #1: 94 mph sinker, strike. 0-1 count.
I'm going with the Pitch F/X descriptions throughout. For what it's worth, here's what Brooks Baseball has to say about Mr. Matz's entire arsenal:
In 2016, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph), also mixing in a Slider (88mph), Change (84mph) and Curve (78mph).
His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has an obvious tail, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action and has well above average velo.
So. Is it a fastball? Is it a sinker? Either way, this first one is clearly meant to challenge Lindor. For most of the game Matz elected to throw first pitch strikes and attempt to get in front of Indians hitters. He succeeded. Lindor — and who knows if he actually wanted to do it or if he was faking — reached out to bunt at the pitch and then pulled away. There are certain writers at this website who feel somewhat strongly about Lindor's predilection for the bunt. In his defense, Lindor would have been bunting for a hit here, and we saw exactly how effective that can be when Asdrubal Cabrera did it in the second inning.
It's upsetting to see him give up a first pitch strike like this, but knowing what Lindor can do when he swings, I don't mind him pulling away.
Pitch #2: 94 mpg sinker, ball. 1-1 count.
Pitch #3: 94 mph sinker, ball. 2-1 count.
Pitch #4: 94 mph sinker, ball. 3-1 count.
Pitch #5: 94 mph sinker, fouled back. 3-2 count.
TIE THOSE SHOES STEVEN.
In time, the universe will agree with Wooden, despite the 4.5 billions lives lost. Tie your damn shoes.
Pitch #6: 93 mph sinker, double to right center.
Let's just take a moment to consider: Matz threw six straight sinkers to Lindor. For all of the work he might have done to change his eye level, brush him off of the plate, or otherwise thwart his expectations, he never thought to go off-speed.
My knowledge comes to a halt here again; perhaps this is the case of a young pitcher deferring to his catcher. Except, no, Kevin Plawecki is only 25 years old with 76 total MLB games under his belt. It is in this moment that I must appreciate what Matz did for the rest of the game. This is his first full season in the majors. I'm not privy to the assistance that the coaching staff gives to calling pitches in the Big Leagues, but regardless, Matz showed some serious promise today as he dismantled the Tribe.