11 September 2002

NYY/BAL Velocity Limbo Contest

Watching Orlando Hernandez and John Stephens pitching against each other tonight, and almost trying to outdo each other with the eephus pitches, was pretty funny. Each inning it got slower and slower, until one pitch, which floated up there out of El Duque's hand, and was so slow that the radar gun didn't pick it up until after the batter hit it, on the way out, measuring 92 mph. I'd be surprised if it was more than half of that on the way in.

Stephens is a big, Australian righty who doesn't throw nearly as hard as you'd expect for his size. In fact, he doesn't throw as hard as you'd expect for Danny DeVito's size. He has a slider/changeup thingy around 73 mph and his "fast"ball tops out at about 84. At one point he threw five or six consecutive really, really slow curveballs, all in the neighborhood of 57-60 mph. And what's more, he had a decent amount of success with that pitch, striking out 8 in 7 innings. He hung one to Robin Ventura that got hit out, though just barely, and Soriano hit a homer, though I don't know off what pitch. The only player I saw who actually did anything with a good pitch like that was Jason "mecca-mecca-hi, mecca-hi-nee-ho" Giambi, who waited on one and then hit it with just upper body strength into right field. Otherwise, most everybody in the Yankees' lineup was made to look pretty foolish, especially Raul Mondesi, who seems to be trying to chop down a Redwood with every swing.

A lot was made of the homer A-Rod hit off El Duque's eephus pitch in a game a couple of weeks ago, but he continues to throw it, because it's usually effective. There aren't many guys who can go up there and throw a pitch at 48 or 50 mph and then come right back with 92 mph cheese that runs away from you. I just don't know if I'd try that crap with Rodriguez (who hit his 54th homer tonight) again any time soon.

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