A big night on the biggest stage! – Brandon Belt
So that’s pretty much what everybody expected, right?
Seriously, it seems that every time we go up against a guy we know is going to be really tough, we step up and do really well. We did it with Kershaw, for one example. And tonight it was Verlander,
That’s kind of our M.O. The tougher the situation, the better we play. We dug holes for ourselves in the NLDS and NLCS and suddenly played out of our minds.
We get two outs – and suddenly we start racking up hits and runs. I’m curious to know how many runs we’ve scored in the postseason on two outs.
I was on a team like this at the University of Texas in 2009. We didn’t have the big-name talent, but we had chemistry – whatever that is, I really don’t know. All I know is it exists. On that UT team, we’d fight really hard with two outs. We’d never give in. We’d be down by a ton of runs, and we kept fighting. We overachieved and finished second in the nation that year.
That’s how this team is. Pelea, right?
The truth is I was really excited to go up against Verlander. I had watched him on TV and studied video. He doesn’t seem to have any flaws, which explains why he’s the reigning MVP and Cy Young winner. But I think every hitter wants to test himself against the best pitchers.
Still, all the preparation in the world guarantees nothing once you’re in the box and facing the pitcher himself. Between innings Bam-Bam watched video of Verlander’s pitches so far. He told me he was throwing a lot of fastballs. I went up looking for a fastball my first time up, and of course got a changeup. You just have to adjust on the fly. I hit it OK, flying out to center. My second at-bat, I was down 0-2 and worked him for a walk. I was pretty proud of that.
Why did we hit so well against him overall? We hit some pitches that maybe he missed a bit. But we also hit very good pitches in the zone. Our lineup showed a lot of discipline, waiting for mistakes and being aggressive when we saw one.
I loved having a close-up view of Zito tonight. He was great. When he missed a pitch, it was never over the plate. He missed outside the zone. He was just so locked in. He’s intense and focused but not so much that you can’t talk to him in the dugout. As a first-baseman, I sometimes can pick up on what runners are doing as far as trying to steal. So I talked to him about that. And I talked to him about what sign I’d give him to indicate I wanted him to throw over. He’s always so steady.
Of course the story of the night was Pablo. It’s just unbelievable what he did. The first home run, he had two strikes and hit the next pitch – a high strike that he had to get on top of. He back-spinned it out of the park. He hit the second home run on a tough down-and-away pitch and just crushed it. The third one was probably the best pitch he had all night.
Some people might think he just swings and he’s simply talented enough to hit the ball a long way. But he puts himself in favorable situations. He’ll get himself into hitter’s counts. He’ll work the pitcher. It’s not luck. There’s a method to his madness.
I’m heading home, or more accurately I’m walking back to the hotel. I wonder if cars will still be honking their horns and if people will still be going crazy. I hope so.
See you tomorrow, and thanks for reading.