The first eight batters of the 2010 season came and went without much fanfare. An impartial observer might even have begun hoping for a baseball game between the Yankees and Red Sox that did not require four hours to complete. That was not to be and the problems began with Jorge Posada in top of the second inning.
With two outs already recorded, Josh Beckett started Posada out with a fastball well down and inside that no self-respecting hitter, or Vladimir Guerrero, would have swung at. Beckett followed with a 95mph fastball over the middle of the plate that Posada fouled back, just missing under the pitch. Posada had the pitch pretty well timed, but could not get his bat elevated in time. Take note, as that would be important about 20 seconds later.
Beckett stayed with the fastball for a third time on the next pitch, this one again landing too far inside but closer to the knees for ball two. It is worth stopping the narrative at this point to digress into some stats. Josh Beckett owns one of the league’s better curve balls. His fastball is good, too, but not as good as the curve. Jorge Posada makes a living off hitting fastballs, averaging almost two runs of offense above what the average hitter would produce for every 100 fastballs that he sees at the plate. On the other hand, Posada has been markedly worse at hitting curve balls, about one run below average per 100 curve balls.
Beckett had drawn Posada’s eyesight inside with his first and third pitches and upward with his second that Posada, remember, was just underneath. He had given Jorge three straight fastballs with which to time his swing. What would be the worst pitch to throw next? A fourth consecutive fastball, this time on the inner half of the plate and a little below the belt was probably it and Posada turned all over it. That Posada was so far in front of Beckett’s pitch tells us that he was sitting fastball and the location was right in his wheelhouse. With the aid of Pesky’s Pole and mediocre pitch sequencing, Posada had 2010’s first hit, first run and first home run.
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