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@RBIRich Baseball Blog … One Pitch Makes a Difference

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 7:  Bud Norris #25 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 7, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – MAY 7: Bud Norris #25 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 7, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

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Last night the Rays pitchers Cesar Ramos threw 72 pitches, Bud Norris grew 101 and Brendan Gomes tossed 18. Five different pitchers combines to throw 143 pitches for the O’s while four Rays pitchers threw 117. But the ball game came down to four pitches and their location to decide the outcome of the game. All four pitches were in the strike zone and over the plate. That means the 2 pitches that Cesar Ramos threw to Adam Jones, the one pitch that Brandon Gomes threw to Schoop, and the one pitch Norris threw to DeJesus all were in the zone and that meant all three pitchers control of their pitches. So if that is the case then why did all four of these pitches ended up in the stands as a homer run.

Often around here you will hear Joe Maddon talk about fastball command. The ability to accurately pinpoint your pitch exactly where the target is. If you go to MLB.com and look at the highlights from last night look where the catchers set up for their pitch and where the ball was thrown you will see the difference between command and control.

Both homers that Adam Jones hit the catcher set up and showed the target on the outer half of the plate, and on both homer Ramos missed his spot and left the ball middle middle and Jones hit both missed spots to just about the same place for a homer. When Schoop went deep the catcher set up inside and low with this target under the hitters belt, but again if you watch the pitch was left up above the belt and it was hot for a homer.

It happens for both sides when Bud Norris gave up the homer to David DeJesus the catcher set up low and away and while still keeping it in the strike zone he missed mid thigh and inside, DeJesus did a great job of keeping his hands inside and dropped the bat head down and hot a sizzling 7 iron for a homer.

All four pitches were in the strike zone but they all were missed spots and resulted in four homers. The game of baseball allows so little room for error and missing you spot like ever so slightly like Gomes did can result in the worst results for the pitcher.

Let me get my saber metric geek on. There is a metric call FIP fielding independent pitching. It measures a pitcher by taking out any ball put in play that isn’t a homer. It only counts strike outs, walks and homers. You think right away wow that is stupid that makes no sense. But as you can see with our four pitches we looked at, we can measure what a pitchers performance is with out the benefit of slick fielding middle infielders or a diving catching in the outfield. But if you break down the four pitches we talked about and how you can break down a pitchers ability and his pitch command.

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